The Oral Microbiology and Microbiome Group

Research Overview

We employ systems biology approaches to determine the causes of chronic human diseases and conditions that involve oral microorganisms. In particular we are applying a range of microbiomic approaches to determine the aetiology of polymicrobial diseases that result from dysbiosis, including periodontitis and early childhood caries. We are determining how oral bacteria cause systemic diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. The long-term goal of these studies is to identify biomarkers of disease and develop novel therapies and preventive regimes. We are funded by the NMHRC, National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation and the Medical Research Futures Fund.

Breastmilk influences the development and composition of the oral microbiome

Human microbiomes assemble in an ordered and reproducible manner yet there is limited information on the colonisation and development of the bacterial communities that constitute the oral microbiome. This is especially true regarding the effect of early childhood diet on the temporal development of the oral microbiome. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of exposure to breastmilk on the assembly of the infant oral microbiome during the first 20 months of life. There were significant differences in the temporal development of the oral microbiomes of never breastfed and breastfed infants. Bacterial diversity was significantly higher in young, never breastfed infants due largely to an increased abundance of oral Veillonella and species from the Bacteroidetes phylum compared with breastfed infants. This is likely to reflect a more varied diet in never breastfed infants. Human milk oligosaccharides, one of the major components of human breast milk, are likely to play a prebiotic role in selection of early-colonising, health-associated oral bacteria, such as the Streptococcus mitis group, and have a significant influence over the temporal development of the infant oral microbiome.

Researchers: Reynolds E, Slakeski N, Holden J, Seers C, Adams G, Zhang L


Prof. Stuart Dashper

Dr. Catherine Butler

Dr. Samantha Byrne

Dr. Nada Slakeski

Dr. Christine Seers

Mr. Geoff Adams

Ms. Rita Paolini

Ms.  Deanne Catmull