Genetic study reveals the origins of cavity-causing bacteria

December 23, 2009

Researchers have uncovered the complete genetic make-up of the cavity-causing bacterium Bifidobacterium dentium Bd1, revealing the genetic adaptations that allow this microorganism to live and cause decay in the human oral cavity. The study, led by Marco Ventura's Probiogenomics laboratory at the University of Parma, and Prof. Douwe van Sinderen and Dr Paul O'Toole of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at University College Cork, is published December 24 in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics.

Bifidobacteria, largely known as long-term beneficial , are often included as probiotic components of food to aid digestion and boost the immune system. However, not all species within the genus Bifidobacterium provide beneficial effects to the host's health. In fact, the Bifidobacterium dentium species is an opportunistic pathogen since it has been linked to the development of tooth decay. The of B. dentium Bd1 reveals how this microorganism has adapted to the oral environment through specialized nutrient acquisition features, acid tolerance, defences against antimicrobial substances and other gene products that increase fitness and competitiveness within the oral niche.

This report identifies, through various genomic approaches, specific adaptations of a Bifidobacterium taxon to a lifestyle as a tooth decay-causing . The data in this study indicate that the genome of this opportunistic pathogen has evolved through only a small number of horizontal gene acquisition events, highlighting the narrow boundary that separates bacteria that are long-term residents on or in the human body from opportunistic pathogens.

Explore further: Scientists decode genome of oral pathogen

Related Stories

Scientists decode genome of oral pathogen

April 5, 2007

Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have decoded the genome of a bacteria normally present in the healthy human mouth that can cause a deadly heart infection if it enters the bloodstream.

Red wine grapes may help prevent tooth decay, research shows

January 29, 2008

Red wine has long been known to contain a substance, resveratrol, that is heart-healthy. Now research shows that both red wine grapes and winemaking residue, known as pomace, contain substances that may help prevent tooth ...

Topical oral syrup prevents early childhood caries

July 5, 2008

Dental researchers at the University of Washington have reported a significant reduction of tooth decay in toddlers who were treated with the topical syrup xylitol, a naturally occurring non-cavity-causing sweetener. Their ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.