Bacterial diversity in the oral cavity of 10 healthy individuals
Bik EM, Long CD, Armitage GC, Loomer P, Emerson J, Mongodin EF, Nelson KE, Gill SR, Fraser-Liggett CM, Relman DA
The composition of the oral microbiota from 10 individuals with healthy oral tissues was determined using culture-independent techniques. From each individual, 26 specimens, each from different oral sites at a single point in time, were collected and pooled. An 11th pool was constructed using portions of the subgingival specimens from all 10 individuals. The 16S ribosomal RNA gene was amplified using broad-range bacterial primers, and clone libraries from the individual and subgingival pools were constructed. From a total of 11,368 high-quality, nonchimeric, near full-length sequences, 247 species-level phylotypes (using a 99% sequence identity threshold) and 9 bacterial phyla were identified. At least 15 bacterial genera were conserved among all 10 individuals, with significant interindividual differences at the species and strain level. Comparisons of these oral bacterial sequences with near full-length sequences found previously in the large intestines and feces of other healthy individuals suggest that the mouth and intestinal tract harbor distinct sets of bacteria. Co-occurrence analysis showed significant segregation of taxa when community membership was examined at the level of genus, but not at the level of species, suggesting that ecologically significant, competitive interactions are more apparent at a broader taxonomic level than species. This study is one of the more comprehensive, high-resolution analyses of bacterial diversity within the healthy human mouth to date, and highlights the value of tools from macroecology for enhancing our understanding of bacterial ecology in human health.