Assessing the Variation within the Oral Microbiome of Healthy Adults

Authors: Jacob Nearing, Vanessa DeClercq, Johan Van Limbergen, Morgan Langille



More than 1,000 different species of microbes have been found to live within the human oral cavity, where they play important roles in maintaining both oral and systemic health. Several studies have identified the core members of this microbial community; however, the factors that determine oral microbiome composition are not well understood. In this study, we exam the salivary oral microbiome of 1,049 Atlantic Canadians using 16S rRNA gene sequencing to determine which dietary, lifestyle, and anthropometric features play a role in shaping microbial community composition. Features that were identified as being significantly associated with overall composition then were additionally examined for genera, amplicon sequence variants, and predicted pathway abundances that were associated with these features. Several associations were replicated in an additional secondary validation data set. Overall, we found that several anthropometric measurements, including waist-hip ratio (WHR), height, and fat-free mass, as well as age and sex, were associated with overall oral microbiome structure in both our exploratory and validation data sets. We were unable to validate any dietary impacts on overall taxonomic oral microbiome composition but did find evidence to suggest potential contributions from factors such as the number of vegetable and refined grain servings an individual consumes. Interestingly, each one of these factors on its own was associated with only minor shifts in the overall taxonomic composition of the oral microbiome, suggesting that future biomarker identification for several diseases associated with the oral microbiome can be undertaken without the worry of confounding factors obscuring biological signals.


Doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00451-20