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Forsyth launches 1-of-a-kind core service to enable rapid identification of bacterial samples

Today, The Forsyth Institute launched a new one-of-a-kind service for the research community. The Forsyth Microbial Identification Microarray Service (MIM) enables the rapid identification of bacterial species in clinical samples. The first service offering, Human Oral Microbe Identification Microarray (HOMIM), will focus on detection of bacterial profiles from the oral cavity. Researchers can use this service to compare bacterial associations in health vs. disease, monitor the effects of therapy on the oral ecology and perform microbial perturbation studies.

The Forsyth research team led by Drs. Bruce Paster and Floyd Dewhirst has used molecular analyses based on 16S rRNA sequencing to identify 550 oral bacterial species. Using this information, they have developed HOMIM, which allows the simultaneous detection of about 300 of the most prevalent oral bacterial species, in a single hybridization. This high throughput technology will allow the evaluation of species that cannot yet be grown in vitro. Information about the service can be found online at

HOMIM is available to researchers from academic institutions as well as private corporations. Researchers can submit DNA isolated from clinical samples and receive an online comprehensive analysis and report. Results can typically be obtained within days once processing has begun.

HOMIM provides a great tool for the oral health research community, said Philip Stashenko, President and CEO of The Forsyth Institute. The expertise of the Forsyth team is unparalleled and it can provide the scientific community with a unique opportunity to carry out global analyses of oral microbial ecology. In the future, we plan to introduce other microarrays which focus on bacteria in different body niches including the GI tract, stomach and skin.


Hundreds of different species of bacteria are able to live in the human mouth, though probably not all of them are present in the same mouth at the same time. Many of these oral bacteria have not been identified because they are impossible to grow in culture in the laboratory. Using molecular techniques, the Paster and Dewhirst laboratories have developed new tools, which do not depend on traditional culturing approaches, to hunt for oral microorganisms. Since the causative agents of oral diseases are not fully known, it is likely that some, or even many, of the novel bacterial species identified by these new methods may play important roles in disease.

The oral cavity also encompasses many surfaces, including teeth, the tongue, palate, and the oral mucosa, each coated with a plethora of bacteria. Using HOMIM, the Forsyth researchers have shown that different consortia of bacteria preferentially attach to different oral surfaces.


Contact: Jennifer Kelly
Forsyth Institute

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