Applications of an in vitro experimental model for a systems level understanding of health and disease states of the human oral microbiome

Anna Elisabet Edlund 1, Shibu Yooseph 2 , Wenyuan Shi 3 , Xuesong He 3 , Jeffrey Scott McLean 4
1 J Craig Venter Institute, Genome Medicine Group, CA, USA
2 University of Central Florida, College of Engineering and Computer Science, FL, USA
3 University of California Los Angeles, Shool of Dentistry, CA, USA
4 University of Washington, School of Dentistry, WA, USA 

Although oral microbial communities are subjected to daily physical and chemical disturbances such as fluctuations in pH, antimicrobial agents, dietary components and personal hygiene measures, a long-term stable microbiome persists. Biological pro- cesses that support this stability are important for the prevention of dysbiosis—a microbial shift toward a disease, e.g. periodontitis (gum disease) or caries (tooth decay), the two most common infec- tious diseases of man. In our previous work, by studying an oral in vitro biofilm model system greater than 100 bacterial species, we identified a plethora of metabolic activities possibly associated with oral health both at the gene and molecule level. We also showed that metabolic activities varied greatly for individual bacterial key-community members during pH fluctuations. Here, we focus on understanding molecular mechanisms and species interactions critical for biofilm community stability during a 24-hour incubation period. By applying meta-omics approaches we dissect regulatory pathways that control the plankton-to-biofilm transition and the maintenance of the stable oral biofilm community during pH stress. These approaches also allow us to target gene transcription activi- ties of virulence mechanisms in low pH over time.

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