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posted by LaminatorX on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:01AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-need-to-go-floss-right-now dept.

girlwhowaspluggedout writes:

"An international team of researchers has discovered a 'microbial Pompeii'; a menagerie of bacteria and microscopic food particles preserved in the dental plaque of 1000 year old skeletons.

The use of dental plaque for genetic and medical research was described by Professor Christian von Mering, an author of the study and Group Director at the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics as, 'a window into the past ... [which] may well turn out to be one of the best-preserved records of human-associated microbes.'

The study, published in the latest issue of Nature Genetics (paywalled), focused on four adult human skeletons with evidence of mild to severe gum disease from the medieval (c. 950-1200 CE) monastic site of Dalheim, Germany. Their dental plaque was compared to that of nine living people with known dental histories. By using shotgun DNA sequencing and Raman spectroscopy, the study revealed that although human diet and hygiene have changed considerably during the last millennium, gum disease is caused by the same bacteria today as it had been in the past.

What's more, the research found that the basic genetic machinery for antibiotic resistance had already existed in our oral cavities well before the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s. Thus, the researchers were able to identify native resistance genes to aminoglycosides, Beta-lactams, bacitracin (used in Neosporin), bacteriocins, and macrolides, among others.

The food particles they recovered were preserved well enough to enable DNA analysis, thus identifying some dietary components, such as vegetables, that leave few traces in the archaeological record. Medieval dental plaque was also found to contain disordered carbon (microcharcoal), an environmental pollutant that causes respiratory irritation."

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  • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:15AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:15AM (#8902)

    The article "summary" is a little lengthy. I appreciate the thoroughness and well written submission. Ideally the summary would be a little punchier, and leave the gory details to the linked articles themselves.

    • (Score: 0) by Bill, Shooter Of Bul on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:31AM

      by Bill, Shooter Of Bul (3170) on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:31AM (#8908)

      Eh, I didn't think it was that bad. Seemed a good length.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday March 01 2014, @01:31AM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Saturday March 01 2014, @01:31AM (#8925) Homepage

        There are always gonna be people who don't like what others do. It's a sprint, and sprinters during a run don't stop and think about the texture of the track or what that one guy in the audience is thinking about them. They just run, and the more they run the more they excel at it. This is like Rocky IV, or any other underdog story, where the editors-and-other-staff-behind-the-scenes' eyes must be on the target, not the prize.

        If some here think the summary is long they should go read one of The Other Site's Bennett Haselton summaries or Packt Publishing Drupal book reviews. This is about what the staff here are doing right, not wrong, and they're doing a bang-up job.

        • (Score: 1) by Reziac on Saturday March 01 2014, @02:05AM

          by Reziac (2489) on Saturday March 01 2014, @02:05AM (#8930) Homepage

          I agree. Good job. Interesting, informative, and well-written.

          • (Score: 1) by davester666 on Saturday March 01 2014, @03:35AM

            by davester666 (155) on Saturday March 01 2014, @03:35AM (#8952)

            Well, whatever you do, you don't want to get some ancient Pompeii on you.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by fliptop on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:33AM

      by fliptop (1666) on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:33AM (#8909) Journal

      The article "summary" is a little lengthy

      There were only 2 links that weren't to wikipedia definitions, one to TFA and the other to the paper's abstract. TFA doesn't have any of the wikipedia links, and I found the summary's links convenient for the terms I am not familiar with.

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      To be oneself, and unafraid whether right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformity
    • (Score: 5, Funny) by Buck Feta on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:35AM

      by Buck Feta (958) on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:35AM (#8910) Journal

      Speaking as one who DNFTA, I enjoy a complete and well written summary and I think the author deserves a plaque for her efforts.

      --
      - fractious political commentary goes here -
      • (Score: 1) by Reziac on Saturday March 01 2014, @04:29AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Saturday March 01 2014, @04:29AM (#8962) Homepage

        "Speaking as one who DNFTA..." ...Does Not Fuck The Article ???

        [PS. You win Pun of the Day!]

        • (Score: 1) by Buck Feta on Saturday March 01 2014, @02:02PM

          by Buck Feta (958) on Saturday March 01 2014, @02:02PM (#9106) Journal

          I do not deny this.

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          - fractious political commentary goes here -
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01 2014, @03:47AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01 2014, @03:47AM (#8957)

      I like it. It saves time - don't need to read the article.

      As long as it's not a many paragraph copy of the whole article then copyright issues shouldn't be a problem either.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by NewMexicoArt on Saturday March 01 2014, @04:43AM

        by NewMexicoArt (1369) on Saturday March 01 2014, @04:43AM (#8965)

        i like it. the first sentence clearly defines what it is about, so i know if i want to spend time reading the rest (i did). and all done without a lot of confusing undefined abbreviations. good job!

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by girlwhowaspluggedout on Saturday March 01 2014, @05:41AM

      by girlwhowaspluggedout (1223) on Saturday March 01 2014, @05:41AM (#8980)

      Generally speaking, I tend to agree. In this case, however, while the University of Leicester's press release is free to read, the actual article is behind a paywall. While I have full text access to Nature Genetics, most others don't.

      So to give the readers a fuller account of the TFA, I added details that I'd otherwise leave out. Other sites basically rehash the press release or the article's abstract, but I took the time to read TFA so that I could offer readers a clearer account. For example, while others simply mention the "basic genetic machinery" that the researchers found, I looked for the actual details, and expanded upon the press release.

      But I'll take your comment into consideration next time I write a summary of comparable length, and perhaps divide it like in http://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=14/02/27/233 3227 [soylentnews.org], if only to lessen the load on the eyes.

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      • (Score: 1) by Debvgger on Saturday March 01 2014, @11:05AM

        by Debvgger (545) on Saturday March 01 2014, @11:05AM (#9054)

        The article was OK for me, thanks for writing it :-)

  • (Score: 2) by RobotMonster on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:12PM

    by RobotMonster (130) on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:12PM (#9069) Journal

    Future archaeologists need your plaque!

  • (Score: 1) by fermento on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:28PM

    by fermento (1069) on Saturday March 01 2014, @12:28PM (#9075)

    I'm wondering what the percentage of skeletons have mild to severe gum disease? If I learn nothing else from advertisements, if I don't use the latest whiz bang toothbrush; whitening, tartar control toothpaste, dental floss, and Dentyne gum (4 out of 5 dentists recommend it), then my teeth will fall out in days.

    It is not surprising that similar genes existing for the antibiotic resistance genes. The antibiotic resistance genes usually don't appear out of thin air (maybe if it was by horizontal gene transfer). The resistance is by modifying something enough (ribosomes, a exporter pump, etc.) that now recognizes the antibiotic.

    • (Score: 1) by johaquila on Saturday March 01 2014, @01:35PM

      by johaquila (867) on Saturday March 01 2014, @01:35PM (#9101)

      For the first 40+ years of my life I had excellent teeth without ever using any of this stuff. Only recently have my wisdom teeth started to make trouble in such a way that now I also have a bit of caries for the first time in my life.

      When I recently went to a dentist for the first time since about 1996, there wasn't much more scale to remove than before, when I went about once every 1-2 years. I suspect that scale may actually have the function of protecting one's teeth and that removing it all the time is not a good idea. I also suspect that I was just lucky to have the right mix of bacteria in my mouth.

      As to periodontal disease, the dentist I just went to happens to be a specialist for that and says I have it and it needs treatment. But I have not felt any symptoms so far and my gums don't look bad either.

  • (Score: 1) by Boxzy on Saturday March 01 2014, @01:28PM

    by Boxzy (742) on Saturday March 01 2014, @01:28PM (#9096) Journal

    But speaking as an Englishman, my countrymen are forming an amazing trove of science for future archeologists.

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