The defenses of the oral microbiome are unique and tracing them could pave way for personalized oral health care, a new study has said.
A strategy for monitoring the interaction between bacterial communities and viruses is to sequence specific bacterial DNA elements that confer acquired immunity against viral attack, called clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs).
In the current study, scientists have for the first time analyzed the evolution of the CRISPR bacterial immune system, specifically the oral microbiome.
David Pride of the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues obtained saliva samples from four healthy subjects over the course of 17 months.
The team's analysis of CRISPR repeat and spacer sequences revealed that although there is a set of CRISPRs maintained within each subject over time, ranging from 7 percent to 22 percent, there was a remarkable amount of change observed even in short periods.
"Each time we sampled our human subjects, approximately one-third of the immune repertoire in the bacterial community was new," Pride explained, "which suggests that the development of resistance to viruses is occurring at least on a daily basis, if not more frequently."
And because the bacterial immune repertoire was traceable, they should be able to track the system within each person and also track bacteria passed between subjects.
"Because these immune features can be used to track bacteria and their respective viruses in humans, it may open to door to more personalized oral health care, where lineages of microbes are traced as a part of routine health care for individuals."
The study is published online today in Genome Research.