A pinboard by
Shu Zhang

Japan, National Institute for Materials Science


Extracellular electron transportation (EET) powers oral pathogens

Life is electric, so as occurring in the microbes with electron transport. Extracellular electron transportation (EET) has been discovered to explain the microbial living mechanisms in the natural environment and reveals the versatility of microbial world. A human body is also an important “environment” for microbial localization, such as human mouth, lung, and gut; and human oral microbial community and their metabolites can influence the human hormonal level and human mood. However, the role of microbial electrochemistry and EET in human oral environment remain uncovered, because human microbiome has been thought to conduct not anaerobic respiration but fermentation. Thus, my research focus is to investigate microbial metabolism under EET condition using model oral pathogens, Streptococcus spp., which mainly harvest energy by fermentation. Currently, I am also looking the genes and enzymes that involved in the EET process to identify the controlling factors. My results will be the first to reveal the electrochemical potential of oral pathogens and open a new research direction to explore the role of EET in human microbiome and its impacts on human health. My study also provides a valuable insight into the future design and apply antimicrobial dental materials for the long-term success of the human oral hygiene plan.


Candida albicans stimulates Streptococcus mutans microcolony development via cross-kingdom biofilm-derived metabolites.

Abstract: Candida albicans is frequently detected with heavy infection of Streptococcus mutans in plaque-biofilms from children affected with early-childhood caries, a prevalent and costly oral disease. The presence of C. albicans enhances S. mutans growth within biofilms, yet the chemical interactions associated with bacterial accumulation remain unclear. Thus, this study was conducted to investigate how microbial products from this cross-kingdom association modulate S. mutans build-up in biofilms. Our data revealed that bacterial-fungal derived conditioned medium (BF-CM) significantly increased the growth of S. mutans and altered biofilm 3D-architecture in a dose-dependent manner, resulting in enlarged and densely packed bacterial cell-clusters (microcolonies). Intriguingly, BF-CM induced S. mutans gtfBC expression (responsible for Gtf exoenzymes production), enhancing Gtf activity essential for microcolony development. Using a recently developed nanoculture system, the data demonstrated simultaneous microcolony growth and gtfB activation in situ by BF-CM. Further metabolites/chromatographic analyses of BF-CM revealed elevated amounts of formate and the presence of Candida-derived farnesol, which is commonly known to exhibit antibacterial activity. Unexpectedly, at the levels detected (25-50 μM), farnesol enhanced S. mutans-biofilm cell growth, microcolony development, and Gtf activity akin to BF-CM bioactivity. Altogether, the data provide new insights on how extracellular microbial products from cross-kingdom interactions stimulate the accumulation of a bacterial pathogen within biofilms.

Pub.: 31 Jan '17, Pinned: 29 Aug '17

Meta-omics uncover temporal regulation of pathways across oral microbiome genera during in vitro sugar metabolism.

Abstract: Dental caries, one of the most globally widespread infectious diseases, is intimately linked to pH dynamics. In supragingival plaque, after the addition of a carbohydrate source, bacterial metabolism decreases the pH which then subsequently recovers. Molecular mechanisms supporting this important homeostasis are poorly characterized in part due to the fact that there are hundreds of active species in dental plaque. Only a few mechanisms (for example, lactate fermentation, the arginine deiminase system) have been identified and studied in detail. Here, we conducted what is to our knowledge, the first full transcriptome and metabolome analysis of a diverse oral plaque community by using a functionally and taxonomically robust in vitro model system greater than 100 species. Differential gene expression analyses from the complete transcriptome of 14 key community members revealed highly varied regulation of both known and previously unassociated pH-neutralizing pathways as a response to the pH drop. Unique expression and metabolite signatures from 400 detected metabolites were found for each stage along the pH curve suggesting it may be possible to define healthy and diseased states of activity. Importantly, for the maintenance of healthy plaque pH, gene transcription activity of known and previously unrecognized pH-neutralizing pathways was associated with the genera Lactobacillus, Veillonella and Streptococcus during the pH recovery phase. Our in vitro study provides a baseline for defining healthy and disease-like states and highlights the power of moving beyond single and dual species applications to capture key players and their orchestrated metabolic activities within a complex human oral microbiome model.

Pub.: 30 May '15, Pinned: 29 Aug '17

Oral biofilm architecture on natural teeth.

Abstract: Periodontitis and caries are infectious diseases of the oral cavity in which oral biofilms play a causative role. Moreover, oral biofilms are widely studied as model systems for bacterial adhesion, biofilm development, and biofilm resistance to antibiotics, due to their widespread presence and accessibility. Despite descriptions of initial plaque formation on the tooth surface, studies on mature plaque and plaque structure below the gum are limited to landmark studies from the 1970s, without appreciating the breadth of microbial diversity in the plaque. We used fluorescent in situ hybridization to localize in vivo the most abundant species from different phyla and species associated with periodontitis on seven embedded teeth obtained from four different subjects. The data showed convincingly the dominance of Actinomyces sp., Tannerella forsythia, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Spirochaetes, and Synergistetes in subgingival plaque. The latter proved to be new with a possibly important role in host-pathogen interaction due to its localization in close proximity to immune cells. The present study identified for the first time in vivo that Lactobacillus sp. are the central cells of bacterial aggregates in subgingival plaque, and that Streptococcus sp. and the yeast Candida albicans form corncob structures in supragingival plaque. Finally, periodontal pathogens colonize already formed biofilms and form microcolonies therein. These in vivo observations on oral biofilms provide a clear vision on biofilm architecture and the spatial distribution of predominant species.

Pub.: 03 Mar '10, Pinned: 29 Aug '17

Biogeography of a human oral microbiome at the micron scale

Abstract: The spatial organization of complex natural microbiomes is critical to understanding the interactions of the individual taxa that comprise a community. Although the revolution in DNA sequencing has provided an abundance of genomic-level information, the biogeography of microbiomes is almost entirely uncharted at the micron scale. Using spectral imaging fluorescence in situ hybridization as guided by metagenomic sequence analysis, we have discovered a distinctive, multigenus consortium in the microbiome of supragingival dental plaque. The consortium consists of a radially arranged, nine-taxon structure organized around cells of filamentous corynebacteria. The consortium ranges in size from a few tens to a few hundreds of microns in radius and is spatially differentiated. Within the structure, individual taxa are localized at the micron scale in ways suggestive of their functional niche in the consortium. For example, anaerobic taxa tend to be in the interior, whereas facultative or obligate aerobes tend to be at the periphery of the consortium. Consumers and producers of certain metabolites, such as lactate, tend to be near each other. Based on our observations and the literature, we propose a model for plaque microbiome development and maintenance consistent with known metabolic, adherence, and environmental considerations. The consortium illustrates how complex structural organization can emerge from the micron-scale interactions of its constituent organisms. The understanding that plaque community organization is an emergent phenomenon offers a perspective that is general in nature and applicable to other microbiomes.

Pub.: 25 Jan '16, Pinned: 29 Aug '17