Ancient oral microbiomes support gradual Neolithic dietary shifts towards agriculture
The human microbiome has recently become a valuable source of information about host life and health. To date little is known about how it may have evolved during key phases along our history, such as the Neolithic transition towards agriculture. Here, we shed light on the evolution experienced by the oral microbiome during this transition, comparing Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers with Neolithic and Copper Age farmers that populated a same restricted area in Italy. We integrate the analysis of 76 dental calculus oral microbiomes with the dietary information derived from the identification of embedded plant remains. We detect a stronger deviation from the hunter-gatherer microbiome composition in the last part of the Neolithic, while to a lesser extent in the early phases of the transition. Our findings demonstrate that the introduction of agriculture affected host microbiome, supporting the hypothesis of a gradual transition within the investigated populations.