Unraveling the human salivary microbiome diversity in Indian populations

PLoS One. 2017 Sep 8;12(9):e0184515. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184515. eCollection 2017.


The importance of studying the salivary microbiome has been highlighted for its connection to health and disease and as a potential tool for supplementing human genetic diversity studies. While the salivary microbiome has been studied in various world populations, Indian populations have not been examined. We therefore analyzed microbiome diversity in saliva samples from 92 volunteers from eight different sampling locations in India by amplifying and sequencing variable regions (V1 and V2) of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. The results showed immense bacterial richness in Indian populations; we identified 165 bacterial genera and 785 unique Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs), with substantial sharing among the populations. There were small, but significant correlations in the abundance of bacterial genera in sampling locations from the same geographic region. Most of the core OTUs detected were also observed previously in other populations, but Solobacterium spp., Lachnoanaerobaculum spp. and Alloprevotella spp. were observed to be a component of the saliva microbiome unique to Indian populations. Importantly, nine bacterial genera were observed that were not listed in the Human Oral Microbiome Database (HOMD). These results highlight the importance of analyzing underrepresented populations like those of India.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Biodiversity*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • India
  • Microbiota*
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Saliva / microbiology*


  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

Grant support

This research was funded as part of the Max Planck Partner Group Programme to MRN from the Department of Science and Technology (http://www.dst.gov.in), Government of India (project No. IGSTC/MPG/PG (MR)/2011) and the Max Planck Society (https://www.mpg.de/en) (project No. M.PG.A.EVAN0002). A.S. was the recipient of Junior and Senior Research Fellowships of the University Grants Commission, India towards the pursuit of a Ph.D. degree of the Manipal University, Karnataka, India.