The Salivary Mycobiome Contains 2 Ecologically Distinct Mycotypes

J Dent Res. 2020 Jun;99(6):730-738. doi: 10.1177/0022034520915879. Epub 2020 Apr 21.


A broad range of fungi has been detected in molecular surveys of the oral mycobiome. However, knowledge is still lacking on interindividual variability of these communities and the ecologic and clinical significance of oral fungal commensals. In this cross-sectional study, we use internal transcribed spacer 1 amplicon sequencing to evaluate the salivary mycobiome in 59 subjects, 36 of whom were scheduled to receive cancer chemotherapy. Analysis of the broad population structure of fungal communities in the whole cohort identified 2 well-demarcated genus-level community types (mycotypes), with Candida and Malassezia as the main taxa driving cluster partitioning. The Candida mycotype had lower diversity than the Malassezia mycotype and was positively correlated with cancer and steroid use in these subjects, smoking, caries, utilizing a removable prosthesis, and plaque index. Mycotypes were also associated with metabolically distinct bacteria indicative of divergent oral environments, with aciduric species enriched in the Candida mycotype and inflammophilic bacteria increased in the Malassezia mycotype. Similar to their fungal counterparts, coexisting bacterial communities associated with the Candida mycotype showed lower diversity than those associated with the Malassezia mycotype, suggesting that common environmental pressures affected bacteria and fungi. Mycotypes were also seen in an independent cohort of 24 subjects, in which cultivation revealed Malassezia as viable oral mycobiome members, although the low-abundance Malassezia sympodialis was the only Malassezia species recovered. There was a high degree of concordance between the molecular detection and cultivability of Candida, while cultivation showed low sensitivity for detection of the Malassezia mycotype. Overall, our work provides insights into the oral mycobiome landscape, revealing 2 community classes with apparently distinct ecologic constraints and specific associations with coexisting bacteria and clinical parameters. The utility of mycotypes as biomarkers for oral diseases warrants further study.

Keywords: fungal-bacterial interactions; microbial ecology; microbiome community classes; oral mycobiome; saliva; salivary diagnostics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bacteria
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Fungi
  • Humans
  • Malassezia
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobiome* / genetics

Supplementary concepts

  • Malassezia sympodialis