Composition of the bacterial flora in tonsilloliths

Microbes Infect. 2006 Aug;8(9-10):2384-9. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2006.04.023. Epub 2006 Jun 30.


Tonsilloliths are a potential cause of oral malodor. In this study, microbial profiles and composition of tonsilloliths were determined using culture-independent molecular methods and scanning electron microscopy. 16S ribosomal RNA bacterial genes (16S rDNAs) isolated from tonsilloliths of 6 individuals were amplified by PCR and cloned into Escherichia coli. Partial 16S rDNA sequences of approximately 600 bases of cloned inserts were used to determine species identity by comparison with sequences of known species. Characteristics of bacteria on the surface and inside the tonsillolith were analyzed using scanning electron microscopy. Anaerobic bacteria detected in tonsilloliths belonged to the genera Eubacterium, Fusobacterium, Megasphaera, Porphyromonas, Prevotella, Selenomonas and Tannerella, all of which appear to be associated with production of volatile sulfur compounds. Electron microscopy revealed cocci and rods on the surface and rods predominating inside the tonsilloliths. These results support the tonsillolith as an origin of oral malodor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / metabolism
  • Calculi / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Halitosis / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Palatine Tonsil / microbiology*