Halitosis is a common symptom mainly caused by microbial activities in the oral cavity. Here, we used 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing and metagenomic sequencing to examine oral microbial compositions and their functional variations in children with halitosis. We found that the tongue coating of subjects with halitosis had greater bacterial richness than those of healthy subjects. The relative abundance and prevalence of Leptotrichia wadei and Peptostreptococcus stomatis were higher in tongue coating samples from children with halitosis than those from children without halitosis; Prevotella shahii had higher relative abundance and prevalence in saliva samples from children with halitosis. We present the first comprehensive evaluation of the co-occurrence networks of saliva and tongue coating communities under healthy and halitosis conditions, and investigated patterns of significant differences between these communities. Moreover, we observed that bacterial genes associated with responses to infectious diseases and terpenoid and polyketide metabolism were enriched in subjects with halitosis, but not in healthy subjects. Hydrogen sulphide (H2S)-related metabolic pathways suggested that there was higher microbial production and less usage of H2S in subjects with halitosis. Thus, the mechanism of halitosis was implied for the first time via metagenomic sequencing.
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