Human oral cavity as a model for the study of genome-genome interactions

Biol Bull. 2003 Apr;204(2):200-4. doi: 10.2307/1543559.


The enormous diversity of culturable bacteria within the oral microbial community coupled with experimental accessibility renders the human oral cavity a valuable model to investigate genome-genome interactions. The complex interactions of oral bacteria result in the formation of biofilms on the surfaces of the oral cavity. One mechanism thought to be important in biofilm formation is the coaggregation of bacterial partners. In this paper, we examine the role of coaggregation in oral biofilms and develop protocols to elucidate the spatial organization of bacterial species retained within oral biofilms. To explore these issues, we have employed two experimental systems: the saliva-coated flowcell and the retrievable enamel chip. From flowcell studies, we have determined that coaggregation can greatly influence the ability of an oral bacterial species to grow and be retained within the developing biofilm. To examine the spatial architecture of oral biofilms, fluorescent in situ hybridization protocols were developed that successfully target specific members of the oral microbial community. Together, these approaches provide insight into the development of oral biofilms and expand our understanding of genome-genome interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Biofilms*
  • Genomics / instrumentation
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • Symbiosis / physiology