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Scientists launch human oral microbiome database

Boston -- Scientists from The Forsyth Institute and Kings College, London have released a new tool for the research community, the Human Oral Microbiome Database, which provides descriptions of the approximately 600 microbes (bacteria) that are most commonly found in peoples mouths. Most bacteria living in the mouth are thought to be important for maintaining the health of teeth and gums, as well as for general human health. A smaller number are potentially disease causing. The database, which can be found at, will help scientists studying the role of specific microbes in human health and disease.

The Human Oral Microbiome Database links several types of information on these microbes to a consistent naming system. Within the database, descriptions of the microbes, their metabolism, and their ability to cause disease will be linked to information on their DNA and proteins, as well as to the scientific literature. The database also allows scientists to examine the genomes of the microorganisms that have had their DNA sequenced. The database can be utilized immediately, and will continue to expand over the next three years.

The research team that developed the Human Oral Microbiome Database includes Forsyth scientists Drs. Floyd Dewhirst, Tsute Chen, Jacques Izard, Anne Tanner, Bruce Paster; and from Kings College London, Dr. William Wade. We believe that the Human Oral Microbiome Database will be very useful, not only to the dental research community, but also to the general medical and infectious disease communities, said Dr. Dewhirst. We hope that the information in this Database can serve as a model for the gut, skin and vaginal databases for the Human Microbiome Project.

This project is supported by National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research, (NIDCR). In December 2007, NIH launched the Human Microbiome Project that initially will sequence all of the genes, or genomes, of 600 representative microorganisms sampled from microbial communities in the mouth, skin, digestive tract, nose, and female urogenital tract. Additional studies are either under way or under development.

Among those already well under way is a NIDCR-supported project to compile a full catalogue of the complete genomes of all oral microbes. It has generated a tremendous amount of data and, coupled with the decades of more traditional studies of oral bacteria, the need for a comprehensive, user-friendly database has become a priority.


Contact: Jennifer Kelly
Forsyth Institute

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