Genetic profiling of the oral microbiota associated with severe early-childhood caries

Y. Li, Y. Ge, D. Saxena, P. W. Caufield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The determination of the composition of the microbial community in the oral cavity is usually based on cultivation methods; however, nearly half of the bacteria in the saliva and the dental plaque are not cultivable. In this study, we evaluated the difference in oral microbial diversity between children with severe early-childhood caries (S-ECC) and caries-free (CF) controls by means of a cultivation-independent approach called denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Pooled dental plaque samples were collected from 20 children aged 2 to 8 years. Total microbial genomic DNA was isolated from those subjects, and a portion of the 16S rRNA gene locus was PCR amplified by using universal primers. We observed that the mean species richness of the bacterial population was greater in the CF children (n = 12) (42 ± 3.7) than in the S-ECC children (n = 8) (35 ± 4.3); the difference was statistically significant (P = 0.005). The overall diversity of plaque samples as measured by the Shannon index was 3.5 for the S-ECC group and 3.7 for the CF group (P = 0.004). Differences in DGGE profiles were distinguished on the basis of a cluster analysis. Sequence analysis of excised DGGE bands consisted of 2.7 phylotypes, on average. After adjusting for the number of observed bands, we estimated that the S-ECC group exhibited 94.5 total phylotypes and that the CF group exhibited 113.4. These results suggest that the microbial diversity and complexity of the microbial biota in dental plaque are significantly less in S-ECC children than in CF children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-87
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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