Sunday, April 3, 2011

Plaque-fighting bacteria

Have you noticed that the microbiome of the human body has taken off as one of the hottest areas?  Each month, new concepts of how our microbial partners keeps us healthy are revealed.  Last week, we were discussing teeth in my A&P 2 course and I wish I'd had this new tidbit to share with my students:

Researchers recently found that Streptococcus salivarius, one of the microbes in our mouth, can help fight the buildup of plaque on our teeth.  It does so by producing the enzyme FruA, which breaks down carbohydrates in our mouth more efficiently than can the bacteria that form plaque biofilms.  Thus, the plaque-forming bacteria are robbed of their nutrients.

I'll bet S. salivarius will become popular as an oral probiotic.  And its discovery may help us find better ways to manage our mouth's ecosystem to promote good health.

Want to know more?

Inhibition of Streptococcus mutans Biofilm Formation by Streptococcus salivarius FruA 
A. Ogawa, et al.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology Vol. 77, March 2011, p. 1572 doi:10.1128/AEM.02066-10, published online January 14, 2011
[Original research article]

Bacterial fight dental plaque
Tina Hesman Saey
Science News Published online April 1, 2011
[Brief summary of the discovery]
Click the image above to access a FREE animation of tooth decay you can use in your course as you explain the process.

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