Biogeography of a human oral microbiome at the micron scale.

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PubMed ID: 26811460

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Mark Welch JL, Rossetti BJ, Rieken CW, Dewhirst FE, Borisy GG

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Feb 2016. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1522149113

COMMENT: This was a surprising publication for me. It includes amazing and beautiful images about the spatial organization of a natural human oral microbiome at the micron scale (using spectral imaging fluorescence in situ hybridization).

The authors describe the discovery of a distinctive, multigenus consortium in the microbiome of supragingival dental plaque that consists of a radially arranged, nine-taxon structure organized around cells of filamentous corynebacteria. The images are very expressive and suggest a different functional niche for each taxa: anaerobic taxa in the interior, aerobes in the periphery and consumers and producers of specific metabolites together.

This work demonstrates the complex architectural organization of consortiums of bacteria that, in some sense, are organized with a level of complexity similar to eukaryotic tissues and organs.

To see these images changes your mind about bacteria (they are not floating in a liquid). Enjoy reading it! 

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Raquel Tobes