When mouth microbes pal up, infection ensues | Science News

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When mouth microbes pal up, infection ensues

Benign oral bacteria provides energy boost for pathogen

By
8:00am, July 11, 2016
Streptococcus gordonii

SUPER SIDEKICK This benign bacterium (Streptococcus gordonii) doesn’t usually cause disease. But new research suggests that it might help other dangerous bacteria become more powerful. 

Normally harmless mouth bacteria can be a bad influence. When they pal around with tooth- and gum-attacking microbes, they can help those pathogens kick into high gear. This teamwork lets infections spread more easily — but also could offer a target for new treatments, scientists report online June 28 in mBio.

The way that bacteria interact with each other to cause disease is still poorly understood, says study coauthor Apollo Stacy, of the University of Texas at Austin. Lab work often focuses on individual bacteria species, but managing the communities of microbes found in living organisms is a more complex task. The new finding suggests that bacteria can change their metabolism in response to the presence or absence of other bacteria. A benign species of bacteria excretes oxygen, allowing the second species to switch to a more efficient aerobic means of energy production and helping it

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