This is not the aftermath of a New Year’s party, but rather a snapshot of what lives in a person’s mouth. A sampling of 15 species of bacteria, from the about 600 species present in human dental plaque, shows which microbes live together, which ones interact with one another, and how densely they share their space. The individual microbes were identified using a combination of fluorescent markers that label nucleotide sequences specific to each species of bacteria and then visualized using a confocal microscope. Gathering many such images is resulting in surprising new insights into the complex communities and social behaviors of microbes in the human body.
Fifteen different species of human oral microbes were labeled with species-specific probes using a technique called Combinatorial Labeling and Special Imaging combined with Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization (CLASI-FISH) and imaged with a confocal microscope.
Gary Borisy PhD, The Forsyth Institute, Cambridge MA