Deep sequencing of the oral microbiome reveals signatures of periodontal disease

Bo Liu, Lina L. Faller, Niels Klitgord, Varun Mazumdar, Mohammad Ghodsi, Daniel D. Sommer, Theodore R. Gibbons, Todd J. Treangen, Yi Chien Chang, Shan Li, O. Colin Stine, Hatice Hasturk, Simon Kasif, Daniel Segrè, Mihai Pop, Salomon Amar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

240 Scopus citations


The oral microbiome, the complex ecosystem of microbes inhabiting the human mouth, harbors several thousands of bacterial types. The proliferation of pathogenic bacteria within the mouth gives rise to periodontitis, an inflammatory disease known to also constitute a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. While much is known about individual species associated with pathogenesis, the system-level mechanisms underlying the transition from health to disease are still poorly understood. Through the sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and of whole community DNA we provide a glimpse at the global genetic, metabolic, and ecological changes associated with periodontitis in 15 subgingival plaque samples, four from each of two periodontitis patients, and the remaining samples from three healthy individuals. We also demonstrate the power of whole-metagenome sequencing approaches in characterizing the genomes of key players in the oral microbiome, including an unculturable TM7 organism. We reveal the disease microbiome to be enriched in virulence factors, and adapted to a parasitic lifestyle that takes advantage of the disrupted host homeostasis. Furthermore, diseased samples share a common structure that was not found in completely healthy samples, suggesting that the disease state may occupy a narrow region within the space of possible configurations of the oral microbiome. Our pilot study demonstrates the power of high-throughput sequencing as a tool for understanding the role of the oral microbiome in periodontal disease. Despite a modest level of sequencing (~2 lanes Illumina 76 bp PE) and high human DNA contamination (up to ~90%) we were able to partially reconstruct several oral microbes and to preliminarily characterize some systems-level differences between the healthy and diseased oral microbiomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere37919
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 4 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine


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