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International Team Sequences Genome of Cavity-Causing Bacteria

An international group of researchers has sequenced and characterized the genome of a cavity-causing bacterial species called Bifidobacterium dentium, identifying key features that have helped the bug become a tooth decay specialist.

The team, which includes collaborators from Europe, the UK, North America, and Asia, coupled their sequencing and analysis of B. dentium's genome with additional transcriptomic and comparative genomic hybridization studies. The research, which appeared online today in PLoS Genetics, suggests a few key horizontal gene transfer events helped B. dentium shift from a neutral or beneficial commensal microbe to a pathogen involved in tooth decay.

"The data indicate that the genome of this opportunistic cariogen has evolved through a very limited number of horizontal gene acquisition events, highlighting the narrow boundaries that separate commensals from opportunistic pathogens," senior author Douwe van Sinderen, a molecular microbiology researcher at the National University of Ireland at Cork, and his colleagues wrote.
 
 

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