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York PhD Student Eleanor Green Wins Wenner Gren Funding

Posted on 11 September 2020

The Dissertation Fieldwork Grant will fund research into ancient microbiomes, urbanisation and diet

Portrait of Eleanor Green, York PhD student

Congratulations to PhD student Eleanor Green who has won prestigious funding (20,000 USD) from the Wenner Gren Foundation. The title of this research is:

Reconstructing the relationship between ancient microbiomes, urbanisation and diet: A bioarchaeological investigation of coprolites 

Green will be conducting research into how human evolution and adaptation has been influenced by various different species, including domesticated plants and animals and microbial pathogens. Recent evidence demonstrates the human microbiome (the collective organisms living in and on our bodies) significantly impacts our health, wellbeing and behaviour, indicating that our microbial communities influence human evolution and biology. How have our microbes evolved with us? To what extent has diet, living conditions and geography impacted our ancestral ecologies? Analysis of biomolecules preserved within archaeological faeces, otherwise known as coprolites, allow us to access the state of ancestral gut microbiomes at specific timepoints. Thereby addressing fundamental questions surrounding the symbiotic relationship of humans and our microbes. I will conduct genetic and proteomic analyses of coprolites from Early medieval sites to provide specific evidence of the ancestral microbiome in an urbanised but pre-industrialised context - a key population which has so far been excluded from global ancient gut microbiome projects. Direct evidence of the largest number of pre-industrial European gut microbiomes to date, will provide a new perspective on how these microorganisms have traced our history and how they differ from those which we harbour today. 

Green is working with teams internationally to identify additional samples suitable for the project, if you would like to collaborate on this project please get in touch.