There are about 700 bacterial species in the oral microbiome, with varying effects on oral health. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, though, are focusing on the role that Desulfobulbus oralis plays in periodontitis.
By integrating genomic and metabolic techniques with classical microbiology, the researchers combined single-cell genomic data with microbiological tricks—including using a complex “soup” made by other oral microbes—to grow the bacterium in the lab.
By isolating D oralis, the researchers hope to better understand how the microbes may have adapted and evolved to become dependent on other oral bacteria, as well as how losing or acquiring genes can make them friend or foe.
Like other known oral pathobionts, the researchers note, D oralis can trigger a proinflammatory response in oral epithelial cells, suggesting a direct role in the development of periodontal disease.
“Oral microbiology is a mature discipline, yet there are still many species that lurk in our mouths that have yet to be cultured and characterized,” said Mircea Podar, PhD, distinguished scientist and systems genetics group leader at ORNL.
“Discovering new information about the so called dark microbiota could be used to develop future alternative treatment and possible prevention of periodontitis, tooth decay, and other oral diseases,” said Podar.