17 March 2022

ERC awards grant to explore the evolution of the human oral microbiome


UCPH researcher Hannes Schroeder from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences receives the prestigious European Research Council’s Consolidator Grant for his inspiring project on the evolution of the human oral microbiome and the population history of prehistoric Europe.

Hannes Schroeder poses beside a DNA-helix figure.
Photo: Suste Bonnén.

The European Research Council has awarded the ERC Consolidator Grant to Associate Professor Hannes Schroeder from the GLOBE Institute Section for Evolutionary Genomics.

Over the next five years, Hannes Schroeder will receive EUR 2 € million for his groundbreaking research project on the evolution of the human oral microbiome and the population history of prehistoric Europe.

“Studying the evolution of the human oral microbiome is challenging but critical for understanding the origins and prevalence of oral and systemic disorders, such as dental caries, periodontal disease, cardiovascular disorders, pneumonia, and a range of other infectious diseases,” says Hannes Schroeder.

“I am extremely excited and honored to receive the ERC Consolidator Grant. It gives us a fantastic opportunity to delve deeper into the population history of Europe as well as the evolution of the oral microbiome, and to explore its links with oral and systemic disease,” he says.

The human oral microbiome is composed of over 600 taxa and plays a central role in oral and systemic health. It also harbors several important human pathogens like Streptococcus pneumonia, which, under the right conditions, may cause disease.

So far researchers have relied calcified dental plaque (dental calculus) to reconstruct ancient oral microbiomes.

In a new turn in ancient genomics, Hannes Schroeder and his team will analyze ancient chewing gums, which they were able to show to be an excellent source of ancient human and oral microbial DNA.

“It turns out that there are hundreds of these pieces from archaeological sites around Europe and each one of them is a treasure trove that can provide fascinating insights into the past and the evolution of our oral microbiome,” says Hannes Schroeder.


Associate Professor Hannes Schroeder
+45 42 52 36 14