Bacteria often show very strong biogeography—some bacteria are abundant in specific locations while absent from others—leading to major questions when applying microbiology to therapeutics or probiotics: how did the bacteria get into the wrong place? How do we add the right bacteria into the right place when the biogeography has gotten ‘out of whack’?
These questions, though, have one big obstacle, bacteria are so tiny and numerous with very diverse and complicated populations which creates major challenges to understanding which subgroups of bacteria live where and what genes or metabolic abilities allow them to thrive in these ‘wrong’ places.
In a new study published in Genome Biology researchers led by Harvard University examined the human oral microbiome and discovered impressive variability in bacterial subpopulations living in certain areas of the mouth.
“As microbial ecologists, we are fascinated by how bacteria can seemingly divide up any habitat into various niches, but as humans ourselves, we also have this innate curiosity about how microbes pattern themselves within our bodies,” said lead author Daniel R. Utter, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University. Read more …
Photo: Micrograph showing Rothia cells (light blue) in their native habitat, a bacterial biofilm scraped from the human tongue. Credit: Jessica Mark Welch, Marine Biological Laboratory