4 years ago

The dental calculus metabolome in modern and historic samples

Eros Chaves, Irina M. Velsko, Laurent A. F. Frantz, Greger Larson, Joshua J. Coon, Katherine A. Overmyer, Cecil M. Lewis, Christina Warinner, Juan Bautista Rodriguez Martinez, Matthew J. Collins, Louise Loe, Lauren Klaus, Krithivasan Sankaranarayanan, Camilla Speller



Dental calculus is a mineralized microbial dental plaque biofilm that forms throughout life by precipitation of salivary calcium salts. Successive cycles of dental plaque growth and calcification make it an unusually well-preserved, long-term record of host-microbial interaction in the archaeological record. Recent studies have confirmed the survival of authentic ancient DNA and proteins within historic and prehistoric dental calculus, making it a promising substrate for investigating oral microbiome evolution via direct measurement and comparison of modern and ancient specimens.


We present the first comprehensive characterization of the human dental calculus metabolome using a multi-platform approach.


Ultra performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC–MS/MS) quantified 285 metabolites in modern and historic (200 years old) dental calculus, including metabolites of drug and dietary origin. A subset of historic samples was additionally analyzed by high-resolution gas chromatography–MS (GC–MS) and UPLC–MS/MS for further characterization of metabolites and lipids. Metabolite profiles of modern and historic calculus were compared to identify patterns of persistence and loss.


Dipeptides, free amino acids, free nucleotides, and carbohydrates substantially decrease in abundance and ubiquity in archaeological samples, with some exceptions. Lipids generally persist, and saturated and mono-unsaturated medium and long chain fatty acids appear to be well-preserved, while metabolic derivatives related to oxidation and chemical degradation are found at higher levels in archaeological dental calculus than fresh samples.


The results of this study indicate that certain metabolite classes have higher potential for recovery over long time scales and may serve as appropriate targets for oral microbiome evolutionary studies.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11306-017-1270-3

DOI: 10.1007/s11306-017-1270-3

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.