Project Details


The emerging field of ancient microbiome research is providing crucial baseline data for understanding the role of agriculture and social organization in shaping the human oral microbiome over the past several thousand years. However, additional transitional historical data are needed to enhance our understanding of how oral microbial ecology has responded to recent sociocultural change in the last 125 years. This dissertation project will investigate changes in the human oral microbiome from 1890 to the modern day, to provide insights into recent evolution and diversity of the oral microbiome, and sociocultural influences on microbiome structure and function. The project will support training and mentoring of students, including those from groups underrepresented in STEM research, and may also inform clinical microbiome research. Research findings will be shared across disciplines through peer-reviewed publications and presentations, and communicated to the public through outreach at participating natural history museums. Through both wet and dry laboratory methods, our research objectives are to 1) characterize the oral microbiome of diverse early 20th century Americans and 2) investigate ecological changes in microbial communities and their metabolic functions over time. To achieve these objectives, dental calculus (tartar) will be collected from geographically and ethnically diverse Americans housed in natural history skeletal collections and living populations residing in the NY metropolitan area. Microbial DNA recovered through shotgun sequencing will be used to reconstruct taxonomic and functional diversity of the oral microbiome. Providing this historical context to the modern microbiome will contribute to our understanding of microbiome ecology, human health and disease in the modern era.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date8/15/187/31/19


  • National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))


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