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Intermicrobial interactions as a driver for community composition and stratification in oral biofilms

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Nicholas JakubovicsORCiD


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The oral cavity is accessible to microorganisms, and biofilms are present throughout on hard and soft tissues. The shedding of epithelial cell layers is usually effective for controlling biofilm development on soft tissues. Innate immune mechanisms are not so effective against biofilms on tooth surfaces, and oral hygiene measures such as brushing and flossing are required for the periodic removal of dental plaque. Even with good oral hygiene, microbial communities accumulate on teeth in areas that are protected from mechanical abrasion forces. Changes in the composition of these biofilms are associated with oral diseases such as dental caries or periodontitis. Newly formed biofilms and more mature dental plaque each have a level of spatial organization in the horizontal and vertical planes. Communities are shaped by many varied interactions between different species and genera within the biofilm, which include physical cell-cell associations known as coaggregation, interspecies signaling, secretion and turnover of antimicrobial compounds, and the sharing of an extracellular matrix. Central to these interactions is the selection for metabolic synergies and it is becoming clear that the ability of communities to extract the maximum energy from the available metabolites is a potent driver for biofilm structure and stratification. This review discusses recent advances in our understanding of intermicrobial interactions in oral biofilms and the roles that they play in determining the spatial organization of biofilm communities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jakubovics NS

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Molecular Biology

Year: 2015

Volume: 427

Issue: 23

Pages: 3662-3675

Print publication date: 20/11/2015

Online publication date: 28/10/2015

Acceptance date: 23/09/2015

ISSN (print): 0022-2836

ISSN (electronic): 1089-8638


DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2015.09.022

PubMed id: 26519790