A study of microbes in the mouths of 100 study participants led to the identification of nearly 400 different species of microbes. The participants belonged to four ethnic affiliations: Whites, non-Hispanic blacks, Chinese and Latinos.
The research found that only 2 per cent of bacterial species were present in all individuals yet the concentrations varied according to ethnicity.
"This is the first time it has been shown that ethnicity is a huge component in determining what you carry in your mouth," said Purnima Kumar, associate professor of period ontology at The Ohio State University.
"No two people were exactly alike. That's truly a fingerprint," said Kumar, senior author of the study.
Using a DNA deep sequencing methodology, scientists were able to obtain a good view of microbial communities. A machine was trained to classify each assortment of microbes from under the gums according to ethnicity The classifier was able to recognize African Americans according to their microbial signature correctly 100 per cent of the time.
"The most important point of this paper is discovering that ethnicity-specific oral microbial communities may predispose individuals to future disease," Kumar said.