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1.  In Vitro Communities Derived from Oral and Gut Microbial Floras Inhibit the Growth of Bacteria of Foreign Origins 
Microbial Ecology  2010;60(3):665-676.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to trillions of microbes. Within the same GI tract, substantial differences in the bacterial species that inhabit the oral cavity and intestinal tract have been noted. While the influence of host environments and nutritional availability in shaping different microbial communities is widely accepted, we hypothesize that the existing microbial flora also plays a role in selecting the bacterial species that are being integrated into the community. In this study, we used cultivable microbial communities isolated from different parts of the GI tract of mice (oral cavity and intestines) as a model system to examine this hypothesis. Microbes from these two areas were harvested and cultured using the same nutritional conditions, which led to two distinct microbial communities, each with about 20 different species as revealed by PCR-based denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis. In vitro community competition assays showed that the two microbial floras exhibited antagonistic interactions toward each other. More interestingly, all the original isolates tested and their closely related species displayed striking community preferences: They persisted when introduced into the bacterial community of the same origin, while their viable count declined more than three orders of magnitude after 4 days of coincubation with the microbial flora of foreign origin. These results suggest that an existing microbial community might impose a selective pressure on incoming foreign bacterial species independent of host selection. The observed inter-flora interactions could contribute to the protective effect of established microbial communities against the integration of foreign bacteria to maintain the stability of the existing communities.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00248-010-9711-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC2954289  PMID: 20625712
2.  Oral-derived bacterial flora defends its domain by recognizing and killing intruders---- a molecular analysis using Escherichia coli as a model intestinal bacterium 
Microbial ecology  2010;60(3):655-664.
Within the same human gastrointestinal (GI) tract, substantial differences in the bacterial species that inhabit oral cavity and intestinal tract have been noted. Previous research primarily attributed the differences to the influences of host environments and nutritional availabilities (“host habitat” effect). Our recent study indicated that, other than the host habitat effect, an existing microbial community could impose a selective pressure on incoming foreign bacterial species independent of host-mediated selection (“community selection” effect). In this study, we employed in vitro microbial floras representing microorganisms that inhabit the oral cavities and intestinal tract of mice in combination with Escherichia coli as a model intestinal bacterium and demonstrated that E. coli displays a striking community preference. It thrived when introduced into the intestinal microbial community, and survived poorly in the microbial flora of foreign origin (oral community). A more detailed examination of this phenomenon showed that the oral community produced oxygen free radicals in the presence of wild type E. coli while mutants deficient in lipopolysaccharides (LPS) did not trigger significant production of these cell damaging agents. Furthermore, mutants of E. coli defective in the oxidative stress response experienced a more drastic reduction in viability when co-cultivated with the oral flora, while the exogenous addition of the anti-oxidant vitamin C was able to rescue it. We concluded that the oral-derived microbial community senses the E. coli LPS and kills the bacterium with oxygen free radicals. This study reveals a new mechanism of community invasion resistance employed by established microflora to defend their domains.
PMCID: PMC2954290  PMID: 20625713
3.  Oral-Derived Bacterial Flora Defends Its Domain by Recognizing and Killing Intruders—A Molecular Analysis Using Escherichia coli as a Model Intestinal Bacterium 
Microbial Ecology  2010;60(3):655-664.
Within the same human gastrointestinal tract, substantial differences in the bacterial species that inhabit oral cavity and intestinal tract have been noted. Previous research primarily attributed the differences to the influences of host environments and nutritional availabilities (“host habitat” effect). Our recent study indicated that, other than the host habitat effect, an existing microbial community could impose a selective pressure on incoming foreign bacterial species independent of host-mediated selection (“community selection” effect). In this study, we employed in vitro microbial floras representing microorganisms that inhabit the oral cavities and intestinal tract of mice in combination with Escherichia coli as a model intestinal bacterium and demonstrated that E. coli displays a striking community preference. It thrived when introduced into the intestinal microbial community and survived poorly in the microbial flora of foreign origin (oral community). A more detailed examination of this phenomenon showed that the oral community produced oxygen-free radicals in the presence of wild-type E. coli while mutants deficient in lipopolysaccharides (LPS) did not trigger significant production of these cell-damaging agents. Furthermore, mutants of E. coli defective in the oxidative stress response experienced a more drastic reduction in viability when cocultivated with the oral flora, while the exogenous addition of the antioxidant vitamin C was able to rescue it. We concluded that the oral-derived microbial community senses the E. coli LPS and kills the bacterium with oxygen-free radicals. This study reveals a new mechanism of community invasion resistance employed by established microflora to defend their domains.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00248-010-9708-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC2954290  PMID: 20625713
4.  Community-based interference against integration of Pseudomonas aeruginosa into human salivary microbial biofilm 
Molecular Oral Microbiology  2011;26(6):337-352.
As part of the human gastrointestinal tract, the oral cavity represents a complex biological system and harbors diverse bacterial species. Unlike the gut microbiota which is often considered a health asset, studies of the oral commensal microbial flora have been largely limited to their implication in oral diseases such as dental caries and periodontal diseases; Little emphasis has been given to their potential beneficial roles, especially the protective effects against oral colonization by foreign/pathogenic bacteria. In this study, we used the salivary microbiota derived from healthy human subjects to investigate protective effects against the colonization and integration of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic bacterial pathogen, into developing and pre-formed salivary biofilms. When co-cultivated in saliva medium, P. aeruginosa persisted in the planktonic phase, but failed to integrate into salivary microbial community during biofilm formation. Furthermore, in the saliva medium supplemented with 0.05% (w/v) sucrose, the oral flora inhibited the growth of P. aeruginosa by producing lactic acid. More interestingly, while pre-formed salivary biofilms were able to prevent P. aeruginosa colonization, the same biofilms recovered from mild chlorhexidine gluconate treatment displayed a shift in microbial composition and showed a drastic reduction in protection. Our study indicates that normal oral communities with balanced microbial compositions could be important in effectively preventing the integration of foreign/pathogenic bacterial species, such as P. aeruginosa.
PMCID: PMC3327514  PMID: 22053962
bacterial interference; microbial flora; oral cavity; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; salivary biofilm
5.  Microbial Community Development in a Dynamic Gut Model Is Reproducible, Colon Region Specific, and Selective for Bacteroidetes and Clostridium Cluster IX ▿ #  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(15):5237-5246.
Dynamic, multicompartment in vitro gastrointestinal simulators are often used to monitor gut microbial dynamics and activity. These reactors need to harbor a microbial community that is stable upon inoculation, colon region specific, and relevant to in vivo conditions. Together with the reproducibility of the colonization process, these criteria are often overlooked when the modulatory properties from different treatments are compared. We therefore investigated the microbial colonization process in two identical simulators of the human intestinal microbial ecosystem (SHIME), simultaneously inoculated with the same human fecal microbiota with a high-resolution phylogenetic microarray: the human intestinal tract chip (HITChip). Following inoculation of the in vitro colon compartments, microbial community composition reached steady state after 2 weeks, whereas 3 weeks were required to reach functional stability. This dynamic colonization process was reproducible in both SHIME units and resulted in highly diverse microbial communities which were colon region specific, with the proximal regions harboring saccharolytic microbes (e.g., Bacteroides spp. and Eubacterium spp.) and the distal regions harboring mucin-degrading microbes (e.g., Akkermansia spp.). Importantly, the shift from an in vivo to an in vitro environment resulted in an increased Bacteroidetes/Firmicutes ratio, whereas Clostridium cluster IX (propionate producers) was enriched compared to clusters IV and XIVa (butyrate producers). This was supported by proportionally higher in vitro propionate concentrations. In conclusion, high-resolution analysis of in vitro-cultured gut microbiota offers new insight on the microbial colonization process and indicates the importance of digestive parameters that may be crucial in the development of new in vitro models.
PMCID: PMC2916472  PMID: 20562281
6.  Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ 
The human gut microbiota has become the subject of extensive research in recent years and our knowledge of the resident species and their potential functional capacity is rapidly growing. Our gut harbours a complex community of over 100 trillion microbial cells which influence human physiology, metabolism, nutrition and immune function while disruption to the gut microbiota has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and obesity. Here, we review the many significant recent studies that have centred on further enhancing our understanding of the complexity of intestinal communities as well as their genetic and metabolic potential. These have provided important information with respect to what constitutes a ‘healthy gut microbiota’ while furthering our understanding of the role of gut microbes in intestinal diseases. We also highlight recently developed genomic and other tools that are used to study the gut microbiome and, finally, we consider the manipulation of the gut microbiota as a potential therapeutic option to treat chronic gastrointestinal disease.
PMCID: PMC3667473  PMID: 23814609
gastrointestinal disease; gut health; microbial diversity; microbial manipulation
7.  Genetic Profiling of the Oral Microbiota Associated with Severe Early-Childhood Caries▿  
The determination of the composition of the microbial community in the oral cavity is usually based on cultivation methods; however, nearly half of the bacteria in the saliva and the dental plaque are not cultivable. In this study, we evaluated the difference in oral microbial diversity between children with severe early-childhood caries (S-ECC) and caries-free (CF) controls by means of a cultivation-independent approach called denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Pooled dental plaque samples were collected from 20 children aged 2 to 8 years. Total microbial genomic DNA was isolated from those subjects, and a portion of the 16S rRNA gene locus was PCR amplified by using universal primers. We observed that the mean species richness of the bacterial population was greater in the CF children (n = 12) (42 ± 3.7) than in the S-ECC children (n = 8) (35 ± 4.3); the difference was statistically significant (P = 0.005). The overall diversity of plaque samples as measured by the Shannon index was 3.5 for the S-ECC group and 3.7 for the CF group (P = 0.004). Differences in DGGE profiles were distinguished on the basis of a cluster analysis. Sequence analysis of excised DGGE bands consisted of 2.7 phylotypes, on average. After adjusting for the number of observed bands, we estimated that the S-ECC group exhibited 94.5 total phylotypes and that the CF group exhibited 113.4. These results suggest that the microbial diversity and complexity of the microbial biota in dental plaque are significantly less in S-ECC children than in CF children.
PMCID: PMC1828962  PMID: 17079495
8.  Development of a Multispecies Oral Bacterial Community in a Saliva-Conditioned Flow Cell 
Microbial communities within the human oral cavity are dynamic associations of more than 500 bacterial species that form biofilms on the soft and hard tissues of the mouth. Understanding the development and spatial organization of oral biofilms has been facilitated by the use of in vitro models. We used a saliva-conditioned flow cell, with saliva as the sole nutritional source, as a model to examine the development of multispecies biofilm communities from an inoculum containing the coaggregation partners Streptococcus gordonii, Actinomyces naeslundii, Veillonella atypica, and Fusobacterium nucleatum. Biofilms inoculated with individual species in a sequential order were compared with biofilms inoculated with coaggregates of the four species. Our results indicated that flow cells inoculated sequentially produced biofilms with larger biovolumes compared to those biofilms inoculated with coaggregates. Individual-species biovolumes within the four-species communities also differed between the two modes of inoculation. Fluorescence in situ hybridization with genus- and species-specific probes revealed that the majority of cells in both sequentially and coaggregate-inoculated biofilms were S. gordonii, regardless of the inoculation order. However, the representation of A. naeslundii and V. atypica was significantly higher in biofilms inoculated with coaggregates compared to sequentially inoculated biofilms. Thus, these results indicate that the development of multispecies biofilm communities is influenced by coaggregations preformed in planktonic phase. Coaggregating bacteria such as certain streptococci are especially adapted to primary colonization of saliva-conditioned surfaces independent of the mode of inoculation and order of addition in the multispecies inoculum. Preformed coaggregations favor other bacterial strains and may facilitate symbiotic relationships.
PMCID: PMC444820  PMID: 15240317
9.  In Vitro Culture Conditions for Maintaining a Complex Population of Human Gastrointestinal Tract Microbiota 
A stable intestinal microbiota is important in maintaining human physiology and health. Although there have been a number of studies using in vitro and in vivo approaches to determine the impact of diet and xenobiotics on intestinal microbiota, there is no consensus for the best in vitro culture conditions for growth of the human gastrointestinal microbiota. To investigate the dynamics and activities of intestinal microbiota, it is important for the culture conditions to support the growth of a wide range of intestinal bacteria and maintain a complex microbial community representative of the human gastrointestinal tract. Here, we compared the bacterial community in three culture media: brain heart infusion broth and high- and low-carbohydrate medium with different growth supplements. The bacterial community was analyzed using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), pyrosequencing and real-time PCR. Based on the molecular analysis, this study indicated that the 3% fecal inoculum in low-concentration carbohydrate medium with 1% autoclaved fecal supernatant provided enhanced growth conditions to conduct in vitro studies representative of the human intestinal microbiota.
PMCID: PMC3147118  PMID: 21811382
10.  Microbial Gut Diversity of Africanized and European Honey Bee Larval Instars 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72106.
The first step in understanding gut microbial ecology is determining the presence and potential niche breadth of associated microbes. While the core gut bacteria of adult honey bees is becoming increasingly apparent, there is very little and inconsistent information concerning symbiotic bacterial communities in honey bee larvae. The larval gut is the target of highly pathogenic bacteria and fungi, highlighting the need to understand interactions between typical larval gut flora, nutrition and disease progression. Here we show that the larval gut is colonized by a handful of bacterial groups previously described from guts of adult honey bees or other pollinators. First and second larval instars contained almost exclusively Alpha 2.2, a core Acetobacteraceae, while later instars were dominated by one of two very different Lactobacillus spp., depending on the sampled site. Royal jelly inhibition assays revealed that of seven bacteria occurring in larvae, only one Neisseriaceae and one Lactobacillus sp. were inhibited. We found both core and environmentally vectored bacteria with putatively beneficial functions. Our results suggest that early inoculation by Acetobacteraceae may be important for microbial succession in larvae. This assay is a starting point for more sophisticated in vitro models of nutrition and disease resistance in honey bee larvae.
PMCID: PMC3749107  PMID: 23991051
11.  Analysis of interspecies adherence of oral bacteria using a membrane binding assay coupled with polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis profiling 
Information on co-adherence of different oral bacterial species is important for understanding interspecies interactions within oral microbial community. Current knowledge on this topic is heavily based on pariwise coaggregation of known, cultivable species. In this study, we employed a membrane binding assay coupled with polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) to systematically analyze the co-adherence profiles of oral bacterial species, and achieved a more profound knowledge beyond pairwise coaggregation. Two oral bacterial species were selected to serve as “bait”: Fusobacterium nucleatum (F. nucleatum) whose ability to adhere to a multitude of oral bacterial species has been extensively studied for pairwise interactions and Streptococcus mutans(S. mutans) whose interacting partners are largely unknown. To enable screening of interacting partner species within bacterial mixtures, cells of the “bait” oral bacterium were immobilized on nitrocellulose membranes which were washed and blocked to prevent unspecific binding. The “prey” bacterial mixtures (including known species or natural saliva samples) were added, unbound cells were washed off after the incubation period and the remaining cells were eluted using 0.2 mol·L−1 glycine. Genomic DNA was extracted, subjected to 16S rRNAPCR amplification and separation of the resulting PCR products by DGGE. Selected bands were recovered from the gel, sequenced and identified via Nucleotide BLAST searches against different databases. While few bacterial species bound to S. mutans, consistent with previous findings F.nucleatum adhered to a variety of bacterial species including uncultivable and uncharacterized ones. This new approach can more effectively analyze the co-adherence profiles of oral bacteria, and could facilitate the systematic study of interbacterial binding of oral microbial species.
PMCID: PMC3469882  PMID: 21485313
membrane binding assay; polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis; coaggregation; Fusobacterium nucleatum; Streptococcus mutans
12.  Regulation of innate and adaptive immunity by the commensal microbiota 
Current opinion in immunology  2011;23(3):353-360.
The microbial communities that inhabit the intestinal tract are essential for mammalian health. Communication between the microbiota and the host establishes and maintains immune homeostasis, enabling protective immune responses against pathogens while preventing adverse inflammatory responses to harmless commensal microbes. Specific bacteria, such as segmented filamentous bacteria, Clostridium species, and Bacteroides fragilis, are key contributors to immune homeostasis in the gut. The cellular and molecular interactions between intestinal microbes and the immune system are rapidly being elucidated. Here, we review advances in our understanding of the microbial populations that shape the mucosal immune system and create a protective defense that prevents infection while tolerating friendly commensals.
PMCID: PMC3109238  PMID: 21466955
13.  Noninvasive Analysis of Microbiome Dynamics in the Fruit Fly Drosophila melanogaster 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(22):6984-6988.
The diversity and structure of the intestinal microbial community has a strong influence on life history. To understand how hosts and microbes interact, model organisms with comparatively simple microbial communities, such as the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), offer key advantages. However, studies of the Drosophila microbiome are limited to a single point in time, because flies are typically sacrificed for DNA extraction. In order to test whether noninvasive approaches, such as sampling of fly feces, could be a means to assess fly-associated communities over time on the same cohort of flies, we compared the microbial communities of fly feces, dissected fly intestines, and whole flies across three different Drosophila strains. Bacterial species identified in either whole flies or isolated intestines were reproducibly found in feces samples. Although the bacterial communities of feces and intestinal samples were not identical, they shared similarities and obviously the same origin. In contrast to material from whole flies and intestines, feces samples were not compromised by Wolbachia spp. infections, which are widespread in laboratory and wild strains. In a proof-of-principle experiment, we showed that simple nutritional interventions, such as a high-fat diet or short-term starvation, had drastic and long-lasting effects on the micobiome. Thus, the analysis of feces can supplement the toolbox for microbiome studies in Drosophila, unleashing the full potential of such studies in time course experiments where multiple samples from single populations are obtained during aging, development, or experimental manipulations.
PMCID: PMC3811555  PMID: 24014528
14.  Metagenomic analysis of the medicinal leech gut microbiota 
There are trillions of microbes found throughout the human body and they exceed the number of eukaryotic cells by 10-fold. Metagenomic studies have revealed that the majority of these microbes are found within the gut, playing an important role in the host's digestion and nutrition. The complexity of the animal digestive tract, unculturable microbes, and the lack of genetic tools for most culturable microbes make it challenging to explore the nature of these microbial interactions within this niche. The medicinal leech, Hirudo verbana, has been shown to be a useful tool in overcoming these challenges, due to the simplicity of the microbiome and the availability of genetic tools for one of the two dominant gut symbionts, Aeromonas veronii. In this study, we utilize 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing to further explore the microbial composition of the leech digestive tract, confirming the dominance of two taxa, the Rikenella-like bacterium and A. veronii. The deep sequencing approach revealed the presence of additional members of the microbial community that suggests the presence of a moderately complex microbial community with a richness of 36 taxa. The presence of a Proteus strain as a newly identified resident in the leech crop was confirmed using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). The metagenome of this community was also pyrosequenced and the contigs were binned into the following taxonomic groups: Rikenella-like (3.1 MB), Aeromonas (4.5 MB), Proteus (2.9 MB), Clostridium (1.8 MB), Eryspelothrix (0.96 MB), Desulfovibrio (0.14 MB), and Fusobacterium (0.27 MB). Functional analyses on the leech gut symbionts were explored using the metagenomic data and MG-RAST. A comparison of the COG and KEGG categories of the leech gut metagenome to that of other animal digestive-tract microbiomes revealed that the leech digestive tract had a similar metabolic potential to the human digestive tract, supporting the usefulness of this system as a model for studying digestive-tract microbiomes. This study lays the foundation for more detailed metatranscriptomic studies and the investigation of symbiont population dynamics.
PMCID: PMC4029005  PMID: 24860552
high-throughput sequencing; beneficial microbes; symbiosis; medicinal leech
15.  Interspecies Interactions within Oral Microbial Communities 
Summary: While reductionism has greatly advanced microbiology in the past 400 years, assembly of smaller pieces just could not explain the whole! Modern microbiologists are learning “system thinking” and “holism.” Such an approach is changing our understanding of microbial physiology and our ability to diagnose/treat microbial infections. This review uses oral microbial communities as a focal point to describe this new trend. With the common name “dental plaque,” oral microbial communities are some of the most complex microbial floras in the human body, consisting of more than 700 different bacterial species. For a very long time, oral microbiologists endeavored to use reductionism to identify the key genes or key pathogens responsible for oral microbial pathogenesis. The limitations of reductionism forced scientists to begin adopting new strategies using emerging concepts such as interspecies interaction, microbial community, biofilms, polymicrobial disease, etc. These new research directions indicate that the whole is much more than the simple sum of its parts, since the interactions between different parts resulted in many new physiological functions which cannot be observed with individual components. This review describes some of these interesting interspecies-interaction scenarios.
PMCID: PMC2168648  PMID: 18063722
16.  Adherence to Streptococci facilitates Fusobacterium nucleatum integration into an oral microbial community 
Microbial Ecology  2011;63(3):532-542.
The development of multispecies oral microbial communities involves complex intra- and interspecies interactions at various levels. The ability to adhere to the resident bacteria or the biofilm matrix and overcome community resistance are among the key factors that determine whether a bacterium can integrate into a community. In this study, we focus on community integration of Fusobacterium nucleatum, a prevalent Gram-negative oral bacterial species that is considered an important member of the oral community due to its ability to adhere to Gram-positive as well as Gram-negative species. This interaction with a variety of different species is thought to facilitate the establishment of multispecies oral microbial community. However, the majority of experiments thus far has focused on the physical adherence between two species as measured by in vitro co-aggregation assays, while the community-based effects on the integration of F. nucleatum into multispecies microbial community remains to be investigated. In this study, we demonstrated using an established in vitro mice oral microbiota (O-mix) that the viability of F. nucleatum was significantly reduced upon addition to the O-mix due to cell contact-dependent induction of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production by oral community. Interestingly, this inhibitory effect was significantly alleviated when F. nucleatum was allowed to adhere to its known interacting partner species (such as Streptococcus sanguinis) prior to addition. Furthermore, this aggregate formation-dependent protection was absent in the F. nucleatum mutant strain ΔFn1526 that is unable to bind to a number of Gram-positive species. More importantly, this protective effect was also observed during integration of F. nucleatum into a human salivary microbial community (S-mix). These results support the idea that by adhering to other oral microbes, such as streptococci, F. nucleatum is able to mask the surface components that are recognized by H2O2 producing oral community members. This evasion strategy prevents detection by antagonistic oral bacteria and allows integration into the developing oral microbial community.
PMCID: PMC3313671  PMID: 22202886
coaggregation; Fusobacterium nucleatum; microbial flora; oral cavity; community resistance
17.  The Gut Microbial Community of Midas Cichlid Fish in Repeatedly Evolved Limnetic-Benthic Species Pairs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95027.
Gut bacterial communities are now known to influence a range of fitness related aspects of organisms. But how different the microbial community is in closely related species, and if these differences can be interpreted as adaptive is still unclear. In this study we compared microbial communities in two sets of closely related sympatric crater lake cichlid fish species pairs that show similar adaptations along the limnetic-benthic axis. The gut microbial community composition differs in the species pair inhabiting the older of two crater lakes. One major difference, relative to other fish, is that in these cichlids that live in hypersaline crater lakes, the microbial community is largely made up of Oceanospirillales (52.28%) which are halotolerant or halophilic bacteria. This analysis opens up further avenues to identify candidate symbiotic or co-evolved bacteria playing a role in adaptation to similar diets and life-styles or even have a role in speciation. Future functional and phylosymbiotic analyses might help to address these issues.
PMCID: PMC3986361  PMID: 24733403
18.  An in vitro biofilm model system maintaining a highly reproducible species and metabolic diversity approaching that of the human oral microbiome 
Microbiome  2013;1:25.
Our knowledge of microbial diversity in the human oral cavity has vastly expanded during the last two decades of research. However, much of what is known about the behavior of oral species to date derives from pure culture approaches and the studies combining several cultivated species, which likely does not fully reflect their function in complex microbial communities. It has been shown in studies with a limited number of cultivated species that early oral biofilm development occurs in a successional manner and that continuous low pH can lead to an enrichment of aciduric species. Observations that in vitro grown plaque biofilm microcosms can maintain similar pH profiles in response to carbohydrate addition as plaque in vivo suggests a complex microbial community can be established in the laboratory. In light of this, our primary goal was to develop a robust in vitro biofilm-model system from a pooled saliva inoculum in order to study the stability, reproducibility, and development of the oral microbiome, and its dynamic response to environmental changes from the community to the molecular level.
Comparative metagenomic analyses confirmed a high similarity of metabolic potential in biofilms to recently available oral metagenomes from healthy subjects as part of the Human Microbiome Project. A time-series metagenomic analysis of the taxonomic community composition in biofilms revealed that the proportions of major species at 3 hours of growth are maintained during 48 hours of biofilm development. By employing deep pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene to investigate this biofilm model with regards to bacterial taxonomic diversity, we show a high reproducibility of the taxonomic carriage and proportions between: 1) individual biofilm samples; 2) biofilm batches grown at different dates; 3) DNA extraction techniques and 4) research laboratories.
Our study demonstrates that we now have the capability to grow stable oral microbial in vitro biofilms containing more than one hundred operational taxonomic units (OTU) which represent 60-80% of the original inoculum OTU richness. Previously uncultivated Human Oral Taxa (HOT) were identified in the biofilms and contributed to approximately one-third of the totally captured 16S rRNA gene diversity. To our knowledge, this represents the highest oral bacterial diversity reported for an in vitro model system so far. This robust model will help investigate currently uncultivated species and the known virulence properties for many oral pathogens not solely restricted to pure culture systems, but within multi-species biofilms.
PMCID: PMC3971625  PMID: 24451062
In vitro model; Biofilm; Oral microbiome; Saliva; Streptococcus; Lactobacillus; Uncultivated bacteria
19.  Using DGGE profiling to develop a novel culture medium suitable for oral microbial communities 
Molecular oral microbiology  2010;25(5):357-367.
More than 700 bacterial species have been detected in human oral cavity. They form highly organized microbial communities and are responsible for many oral infectious diseases, such as dental caries and periodontal disease. The prevention and treatment of these diseases require a comprehensive knowledge of oral microbial communities, which largely relies on culture-dependent methods to have detailed phenotypic and physiological analysis of these communities. However, most of the currently available lab media can only selectively support the growth of a limited number of bacterial species within these communities, and fail to sustain the original oral microbial diversity. In this study, using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) as an index to systematically survey and analyze the selectivity of commonly used lab media, we developed a new medium (SHI medium) by combining the ingredients of several selected media which can support different sub-populations within the original oral microbial community derived from pooled saliva. DGGE and 454 pyrosequencing analysis showed that SHI medium was capable of supporting a more diversified community with a microbial profile closest to that of the original oral microbiota. Furthermore, 454 pyrosequencing revealed that SHI medium supported the growth of many oral species that have not been cultured so far. Crystal violet assay and the CLSM (confocal laser scanning microscope) analysis indicated that, compared with other media, SHI medium is able to support more complex saliva-derived biofilm with higher biomass yield and more diversified species. This DGGE-guided method could also be used to develop novel media for other complex microbial communities.
PMCID: PMC2951289  PMID: 20883224
oral microbial community; growth medium; 454 pyrosequencing
20.  High-Resolution Analysis of Gut Environment and Bacterial Microbiota Reveals Functional Compartmentation of the Gut in Wood-Feeding Higher Termites (Nasutitermes spp.) 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(13):4691-4701.
Higher termites are characterized by a purely prokaryotic gut microbiota and an increased compartmentation of their intestinal tract. In soil-feeding species, each gut compartment has different physicochemical conditions and is colonized by a specific microbial community. Although considerable information has accumulated also for wood-feeding species of the genus Nasutitermes, including cellulase activities and metagenomic data, a comprehensive study linking physicochemical gut conditions with the structure of the microbial communities in the different gut compartments is lacking. In this study, we measured high-resolution profiles of H2, O2, pH, and redox potential in the gut of Nasutitermes corniger termites, determined the fermentation products accumulating in the individual gut compartments, and analyzed the bacterial communities in detail by pyrotag sequencing of the V3-V4 region of the 16S rRNA genes. The dilated hindgut paunch (P3 compartment) was the only anoxic gut region, showed the highest density of bacteria, and accumulated H2 to high partial pressures (up to 12 kPa). Molecular hydrogen is apparently produced by a dense community of Spirochaetes and Fibrobacteres, which also dominate the gut of other Nasutitermes species. All other compartments, such as the alkaline P1 compartment (average pH, 10.0), showed high redox potentials and comprised small but distinct populations characteristic for each gut region. In the crop and the posterior hindgut compartments, the community was even more diverse than in the paunch. Similarities in the communities of the posterior hindgut and crop suggested that proctodeal trophallaxis or coprophagy also occurs in higher termites. The large sampling depths of pyrotag sequencing in combination with the determination of important physicochemical parameters allow cautious conclusions concerning the functions of particular bacterial lineages in the respective gut sections to be drawn.
PMCID: PMC3370480  PMID: 22544239
21.  Good fences make good neighbors 
Gut Microbes  2010;1(1):22-29.
The gastrointestinal lumen is home to over 400 species of microorganisms. The composition of this microbial community varies along the length of the gastrointestinal tract as a function of regional epithelial secretory activity as well as diet and other defined and undefined determinants. Improved understanding of the factors that impact luminal microbial populations and development of means to modulate gut microbes for therapeutic benefit hold great promise. The gastrointestinal epithelium, which regulates interactions between microbes and the mammalian host, is the topic of this review.
PMCID: PMC3035135  PMID: 21327113
intestine; epithelium; secretion; absorption; tight junction; myosin; microbes
22.  Technology Development to Explore the Relationship Between Oral Health and the Oral Microbial Community 
BMC Oral Health  2006;6(Suppl 1):S10.
The human oral cavity contains a complex microbial community that, until recently, has not been well characterized. Studies using molecular tools have begun to enumerate and quantify the species residing in various niches of the oral cavity; yet, virtually every study has revealed additional new species, and little is known about the structural dynamics of the oral microbial community or how it changes with disease. Current estimates of bacterial diversity in the oral cavity range up to 700 species, although in any single individual this number is much lower. Oral microbes are responsible for common chronic diseases and are suggested to be sentinels of systemic human diseases. Microarrays are now being used to study oral microbiota in a systematic and robust manner. Although this technology is still relatively young, improvements have been made in all aspects of the technology, including advances that provide better discrimination between perfect-match hybridizations from non-specific (and closely-related) hybridizations. This review addresses a core technology using gel-based microarrays and the initial integration of this technology into a single device needed for system-wide studies of complex microbial community structure and for the development of oral diagnostic devices.
PMCID: PMC2147590  PMID: 16934111
23.  Is there a role for lactobacilli in prevention of urogenital and intestinal infections? 
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  1990;3(4):335-344.
This review describes the importance of microbial adhesion in the ecology of the urogenital and intestinal tracts and the influence of host and microbial factors in bacterial interference. In a recent revival of interest in bacterial interference, lactobacillus administration has been studied as a means of treating and preventing disease. Although evidence is conflicting, Lactobacillus acidophilus appears to be involved in beneficial antagonistic and cooperative reactions that interfere with establishment of pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract. The mechanisms of action are believed to involve competitive exclusion and production of inhibitory substances, including bacteriocins. These characteristics, as well as demonstrated adherence abilities in vitro, led to selection of certain Lactobacillus strains for clinical studies of cystitis. Weekly intravaginal Lactobacillus therapy reduced the recurrence rate of uncomplicated lower urinary tract infections in women. Use of Lactobacillus strains resistant to Nonoxynol-9, a spermicide that kills members of the protective normal vaginal flora, may have potential for use in women with recurrent cystitis using this contraceptive agent. In veterinary studies, bacterial interference by administration of probiotics has also been beneficial in disease prevention in animals. Carefully selected bacterial mixtures integrate with the gastrointestinal flora of the animals and can confer disease resistance and improve physiological function. Additional human and animal trials are needed to determine the practical, long-term usefulness of bacterial interference as a protective mechanism against infectious diseases.
PMCID: PMC358167  PMID: 2224835
24.  The oral metagenome in health and disease 
The ISME Journal  2011;6(1):46-56.
The oral cavity of humans is inhabited by hundreds of bacterial species and some of them have a key role in the development of oral diseases, mainly dental caries and periodontitis. We describe for the first time the metagenome of the human oral cavity under health and diseased conditions, with a focus on supragingival dental plaque and cavities. Direct pyrosequencing of eight samples with different oral-health status produced 1 Gbp of sequence without the biases imposed by PCR or cloning. These data show that cavities are not dominated by Streptococcus mutans (the species originally identified as the ethiological agent of dental caries) but are in fact a complex community formed by tens of bacterial species, in agreement with the view that caries is a polymicrobial disease. The analysis of the reads indicated that the oral cavity is functionally a different environment from the gut, with many functional categories enriched in one of the two environments and depleted in the other. Individuals who had never suffered from dental caries showed an over-representation of several functional categories, like genes for antimicrobial peptides and quorum sensing. In addition, they did not have mutans streptococci but displayed high recruitment of other species. Several isolates belonging to these dominant bacteria in healthy individuals were cultured and shown to inhibit the growth of cariogenic bacteria, suggesting the use of these commensal bacterial strains as probiotics to promote oral health and prevent dental caries.
PMCID: PMC3246241  PMID: 21716308
metagenomics; human microbiome; dental caries; Streptococcus mutans; pyrosequencing; probiotics
25.  Dysbiosis in the Pathogenesis of Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Diseases 
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are chronic inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract that occur in genetically susceptible individuals. Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are two major types of IBD. In about 20–25% of patients, disease onset is during childhood and pediatric IBD can be considered the best model for studying immunopathogentic mechanisms. The fundamentals of IBD pathogenesis are considered a defective innate immunity and bacterial killing with overaggressive adaptive immune response. A condition of “dysbiosis”, with alterations of the gut microbial composition, is regarded as the basis of IBD pathogenesis. The human gastrointestinal (GI) microbial population is a complex, dynamic ecosystem and consists of up to one thousand different bacterial species. In healthy individuals, intestinal microbiota have a symbiotic relationship with the host organism and carry out important metabolic, “barrier,” and immune functions. Microbial dysbiosis in IBD with lack of beneficial bacteria, together with genetic predisposition, is the most relevant conditions in the pathogenesis of the pediatric IBD.
PMCID: PMC3363416  PMID: 22685684

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