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Scientists launch first comprehensive database of human oral microbiome
Date:3/26/2008

Scientists know more today than ever before about the microbes that inhabit our mouths. They know so much, in fact, that gathering all of the relevant bits of information into one place when designing experiments can be a job in itself. Now, grantees of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health, and their international colleagues intend to solve this problem with the launch of the first comprehensive database of the oral microbiome, or the approximately 600 distinct microorganisms currently known to live in the mouth.

The free online compendium is called the Human Oral Microbiome Database (HOMD). The database goes live today as the digital equivalent of an Oxford dictionary of oral microorganisms, providing detailed biological entries for each species and an extensive catalogue of the thousands of genes that these microbes express. The site is located at http://www.homd.org and is overseen by scientists at The Forsyth Institute in Boston and Kings College London in England.

The HOMD fills a critical research need, said NIDCR director Lawrence Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D. The oral microbiome is extremely rich in data, and HOMD becomes the essential search engine for scientists to view and retrieve this information, generate novel hypotheses, make computational discoveries, and ultimately develop more biologically sound therapies to control oral diseases.

According to Floyd Dewhirst, D.D.S., Ph.D., a leader of the project and a scientist at The Forsyth Institute, HOMD also introduces the first comprehensive nomenclature system to bring order to the naming of uncultured or previously unnamed oral microbes. The standardized numbering system helps to eliminate the Babel of confusing names and uninformative database designations that have frustrated scientists and sometimes hindered their research.

The database also categorizes e
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Contact: Bob Kuska
kuskar@nidcr.nih.gov
301-594-7560
NIH/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Source:Eurekalert

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