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Patterns of Oral Microbiota Diversity in Adults and Children: A Crowdsourced Population Study.

  • Author(s): Burcham, Zachary M;
  • Garneau, Nicole L;
  • Comstock, Sarah S;
  • Tucker, Robin M;
  • Knight, Rob;
  • Metcalf, Jessica L;
  • Genetics of Taste Lab Citizen Scientists
  • et al.

Oral microbiome dysbiosis has been associated with various local and systemic human diseases such as dental caries, periodontal disease, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Bacterial composition may be affected by age, oral health, diet, and geography, although information about the natural variation found in the general public is still lacking. In this study, citizen-scientists used a crowdsourcing model to obtain oral bacterial composition data from guests at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to determine if previously suspected oral microbiome associations with an individual's demographics, lifestyle, and/or genetics are robust and generalizable enough to be detected within a general population. Consistent with past research, we found bacterial composition to be more diverse in youth microbiomes when compared to adults. Adult oral microbiomes were predominantly impacted by oral health habits, while youth microbiomes were impacted by biological sex and weight status. The oral pathogen Treponema was detected more commonly in adults without recent dentist visits and in obese youth. Additionally, oral microbiomes from participants of the same family were more similar to each other than to oral microbiomes from non-related individuals. These results suggest that previously reported oral microbiome associations are observable in a human population containing the natural variation commonly found in the general public. Furthermore, these results support the use of crowdsourced data as a valid methodology to obtain community-based microbiome data.

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