The Influence of Diet on the Ancient Dog Gut Microbiome

Karthik Yarlagadda, Kelsey Witt, Kristin Hedman, Kelly Swanson, Ripan Malhi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Coprolites are recognized as an important source of archaeological data; they contain biological remains from the organism’s diet, as well as genetic material from microorganisms, dietary components, and the host. Modern studies have shown that the gut microbiome reflects dietary trends; as microbial remains are also present in coprolites, these provide another angle for studying the diet and health of ancient organisms. To expand upon previous analyses of ancient dogs at Janey B. Goode, we turned to microbial analysis of a subset (N=8) of our previously sampled dog coprolites. We shotgun sequenced libraries constructed from the coprolites, in addition to bone and soil controls (N=5). For a comparative analysis, we additionally sequenced another set of modern dog samples (N=8). These modern dog samples reflect 4 individuals sampled twice, when fed a high- or low-protein diet. Comparing the final ancient and modern data sets reveals similarities in trends of bacterial phyla in accordance with dietary patterns. We noted an increase in gut-associated phyla with increased ancient DNA preservation in the coprolites. Altogether, our data reflects the dietary conditions of these ancient dogs and helps us understand the relationship these ancient dogs may have had with the human individuals at the site.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2019


  • ISAS

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