Episode Summary

Tiny bacteria that live on larger bacteria reduce the inflammation and gum disease the bigger microbes cause in the mouths of mice!

Microbe of the episode:

Actinomadura viridilutea

Jesse's takeaways

Even bacteria can be hosts to smaller symbionts living on them. Some kinds of these extremely tiny bacteria live in various parts of our bodies, and are sometimes associated with inflammation and the resulting disease. But being associated with something isn't necessarily the same as causing that thing.

In this study, tiny bacteria living on other bacteria in the mouths of mice were found to reduce the inflammation caused by their bacterial hosts, resulting in less gum disease and bone loss in the jaw. Even when the tiny bacteria were no longer present, their former bacterial hosts were still less disruptive to the mouse mouth.

Journal Paper

Chipashvili O, Utter DR, Bedree JK, Ma Y, Schulte F, Mascarin G, Alayyoubi Y, Chouhan D, Hardt M, Bidlack F, Hasturk H, He X, McLean JS, Bor B. 2021. Episymbiotic Saccharibacteria suppresses gingival inflammation and bone loss in mice through host bacterial modulation. Cell Host Microbe 29:1649-1662.e7.

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tiny symbiont Saccharibacteria (yellow-green) on host bacteria