Nav: Home

Don't blame your genes for your toothache, twin study shows

September 13, 2017

For the first time, investigators have looked at the role that genes and the oral microbiome play in the formation of cavities and have found that your mother was right: The condition of your teeth depends on your dietary and oral hygiene habits. The study appears September 13 in Cell Host & Microbe.

"Limiting sugar consumption and acid buildup in the mouth have been part of the dogma of the dental community for some time," says senior author Karen Nelson, President of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI). "This work introduces specific taxa of bacteria that can be acquired through the environment and that have the ability to induce cavities."

Since the early 20th century, dentists and other experts have known that Streptococcus bacteria in the mouth are linked to the formation of cavities. Now, with the ability to study studying the microbiome, the investigators were able to take a closer look at specific taxa that are important.

To separate the role of heritability versus the environment, Nelson and her team turned to a popular method for studying such interactions: identical and fraternal twins. Specifically, they profiled the oral microbiomes of 485 twin pairs between the ages of 5 and 11. There were 280 fraternal twins and 205 identical twins--and one set of triplets. The samples were obtained with mouth swabs.

"We decided to focus on children because we hypothesized twow things--that the oral microbiome rapidly changes with age, and also that child twin pairs are likely to have a shared environment," Nelson says. "This allowed us to better control the influence of shared and unique environments."

Their results--driven with significant analysis input from co-authors Josh Espinoza (JCVI Engineer) and Chris Dupont (JCVI Associate Professor)--showed that identical twins had oral microbiomes that were more similar to each other than those of fraternal twins, indicating that there is genetic contribution to which kinds of bacteria are likely to be present in the mouth. However, the taxa that were linked most closely to heritability were not the ones that play a role in cavity formation. In addition, they found that the heritable strains of bacteria decrease in abundance as people get older, whereas the ones linked to the environment increase.

An important additional finding was the link between certain bacterial species and sugar consumption. Bacteria that were associated with fewer cavities were in lower abundance in twins who had a lot of added sugar in their food and drinks. In contrast, bacteria that are more common in children who consume a lot of sugar were associated with having more cavities.

The team plans to continue studying the twins over repeat visits to examine changing patterns in the oral microbiome. They are also looking at functional differences in the oral microbiomes of identical and fraternal twin pairs that have various states of oral health.
-end-
This research was supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research of the National Institutes of Health, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, the Bonnie Babes Foundation, the Financial Markets Foundation for Children, and by the Victorian Government's Operational Infrastructure Support Program.

Cell Host & Microbe, Gomez et al: "Host Genetic Control of the Oral Microbiome in Health and Disease." http://www.cell.com/cell-host-microbe/fulltext/S1931-3128(17)30346-3

Cell Host & Microbe (@cellhostmicrobe), published by Cell Press, is a monthly journal that publishes novel findings and translational studies related to microbes (which include bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses). The unifying theme is the integrated study of microbes in conjunction and communication with each other, their host, and the cellular environment they inhabit. Visit: http://www.cell.com/cell-host-microbe. To receive Cell Press media alerts, contact press@cell.com.

Cell Press

Related Bacteria Articles:

Conducting shell for bacteria
Under anaerobic conditions, certain bacteria can produce electricity. This behavior can be exploited in microbial fuel cells, with a special focus on wastewater treatment schemes.
Controlling bacteria's necessary evil
Until now, scientists have only had a murky understanding of how these relationships arise.
Bacteria take a deadly risk to survive
Bacteria need mutations -- changes in their DNA code -- to survive under difficult circumstances.
How bacteria hunt other bacteria
A bacterial species that hunts other bacteria has attracted interest as a potential antibiotic, but exactly how this predator tracks down its prey has not been clear.
Chlamydia: How bacteria take over control
To survive in human cells, chlamydiae have a lot of tricks in store.
Stress may protect -- at least in bacteria
Antibiotics harm bacteria and stress them. Trimethoprim, an antibiotic, inhibits the growth of the bacterium Escherichia coli and induces a stress response.
'Pulling' bacteria out of blood
Magnets instead of antibiotics could provide a possible new treatment method for blood infection.
New findings detail how beneficial bacteria in the nose suppress pathogenic bacteria
Staphylococcus aureus is a common colonizer of the human body.
Understanding your bacteria
New insight into bacterial cell division could lead to advancements in the fight against harmful bacteria.
Bacteria are individualists
Cells respond differently to lack of nutrients.

Related Bacteria Reading:

The Bacteria Book: The Big World of Really Tiny Microbes
by Steve Mould (Author)

In this funny and fact-packed introductory science book, kids will discover the bacteria, viruses, and other germs and microbes that are all around, but too small for us to see.

What do a squid that glows, fungus that grows, and tiny creatures in the soil under your toes all have in common? Find out in this dynamic and engaging book all about bacteria, viruses, and other germs and microbes. The Bacteria Book walks the line between "ew, gross!" and "oh, cool!," exploring why we need bacteria and introducing readers to its microbial mates--viruses, fungi, algae, archaea,... View Details


Bacteria: Staph, Strep, Clostridium, and Other Bacteria (Class of Their Own (Paperback))
by Judy Wearing (Author)

Bacteria are microscopic organisms with a cell structure that is very different from that of the other kingdoms. Traditionally classified according to their shape, scientists now use DNA studies to refine the groupings of bacteria. This book examines bacteria that are found in virtually every environmentincluding those that are characterized by extreme heat, cold, and depthand, of course, bacteria that are found inside our bodies. Intriguing information highlights the key role that bacteria play in shaping the ecology of our planet, how some bacteria make their own food while others feed on... View Details


Bacteria: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Sebastian G.B. Amyes (Author)

Bacteria form a fundamental branch of life. They are the oldest forms of life and the most prolific of all living organisms, inhabiting every part of the Earth's surface, its ocean depths, and even such inhospitable places as boiling hot springs. In this Very Short Introduction, bacteriologist Sebastian Amyes explores the nature of bacteria, their origin and evolution, bacteria in the environment, and bacteria and disease. Amyes discusses some of the major infections caused by bacteria-bacteria causes pneumonia, diphtheria, cholera, and many other diseases-and shows how these... View Details


A Field Guide to Bacteria (Comstock Book)
by Betsey Dexter Dyer (Author)

"Although most people are aware that bacteria are all around us, few would guess that they produce such distinctive and accessible signs. Whether you're walking on the beach, visiting a zoo or aquarium, buying groceries, looking for fossils, drinking beer, traipsing through a swamp, or cleaning scum from beneath a dripping outdoor faucet, you're surrounded by bacterial field marks. You don't need a laboratory or fancy equipment to find out what kind of bacteria are there―this guide will tell you how."―from the IntroductionBacteria are an integral aspect of every habitat in which they... View Details


The Surprising World of Bacteria with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science)
by Agnieszka Biskup (Author), Anne Timmons (Author), Matt Webb (Author), Krista Ward (Author)

"In graphic novel format, follows Max Axiom as he explores the world of bacteria"--Provided by publisher. View Details


Are All Bacteria Dangerous? Biology Book for Kids | Children's Biology Books
by Baby Professor (Author)

If you're child is into science, or you would like him/her to be, then this biology book is a must-have! Bacteria is always all around us but that doesn't mean we should be perpetually afraid of them. Lack of knowledge on the subject will make you fear too much. That is why it is important to encourage your child to pick up the habit of reading. View Details


Superbugs: An Arms Race against Bacteria
by William Hall (Author), Anthony McDonnell (Author), Jim O'Neill Chair of a formal Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) (Author)

Antibiotics are powerful drugs that can prevent and treat infections, but they are becoming less effective as a result of drug resistance. Resistance develops because the bacteria that antibiotics target can evolve ways to defend themselves against these drugs. When antibiotics fail, there is very little else to prevent an infection from spreading.

Unnecessary use of antibiotics in both humans and animals accelerates the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria, with potentially catastrophic personal and global consequences. Our best defenses against infectious disease could cease to... View Details


I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
by Ed Yong (Author)

Joining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin—a “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth.

Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new... View Details


From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds
by Daniel C. Dennett (Author)

“[The] best scientific-philosophical approach to understanding how consciousness evolved.… A wonderful book that will shape and drive thinking for years to come.”―Shane O’Mara, Times Higher Education

How did we come to have minds? For centuries, poets, philosophers, psychologists, and physicists have wondered how the human mind developed its unrivaled abilities. Disciples of Darwin have explained how natural selection produced plants, but what about the human mind?

In From Bacteria to Bach and Back, Daniel C. Dennett builds on recent... View Details


Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful
by Trudy M. Wassenaar (Author)

A comprehensive, reader-friendly introduction to the world of bacteria

When most people hear the word "bacteria" they think of food poisoning; infections; and acute, debilitating, or fatal diseases. Yet, while E. coli, strep, and other bacterial pathogens certainly cause their share of misery in the world, they are only a tiny portion of a vast universe of microorganisms—the most basic of life forms. Without them, nothing else could live or grow on Planet Earth. Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful introduces you to this diverse, microscopic... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Attention Please
In an age of constant information and infinite distractions, how can we pay more attention to our ... attention? This hour, TED speakers explore the battle for our awareness during the digital age. Guests include sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, podcast host Manoush Zomorodi, neuroscientist Amishi Jha, designer Tristan Harris, and computer scientist Jaron Lanier.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#475 Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning how deadly and delightful our planet and its ecosystem can be. We're joined by biologist Dan Riskin, co-host of Discovery Canada's Daily Planet, to talk about his book "Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You: a Lively Tour Through the Dark Side of the Natural World." And we'll talk to astronomer and author Phil Plait about Science Getaways, his company that offers educational vacation experiences for science lovers.