Oral microbiota ecology is influenced by environmental and host conditions, but few studies have evaluated associations between untargeted measures of the entire oral microbiome and potentially relevant environmental and host factors. This study aimed to identify salivary microbiota cluster groups using hierarchical cluster analyses (Wards method) based on 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, and identify lifestyle and host factors which were associated with these groups. Group members (n = 175) were distinctly separated by microbiota profiles and differed in reported sucrose intake and allelic variation in the taste-preference-associated genes TAS1R1 (rs731024) and GNAT3 (rs2074673). Groups with higher sucrose intake were either characterized by a wide panel of species or phylotypes with fewer aciduric species, or by a narrower profile that included documented aciduric- and caries-associated species. The inferred functional profiles of the latter type were dominated by metabolic pathways associated with the carbohydrate metabolism with enrichment of glycosidase functions. In conclusion, this study supported in vivo associations between sugar intake and oral microbiota ecology, but it also found evidence for a variable microbiota response to sugar, highlighting the importance of modifying host factors and microbes beyond the commonly targeted acidogenic and acid-tolerant species. The results should be confirmed under controlled settings with comprehensive phenotypic and genotypic data.
Keywords: 16S rDNA sequencing; genes; microbiota; saliva; sugar; taste.