Send to

Choose Destination
Adv Microb Physiol. 2000;42:239-74.

Adaptation of oral streptococci to low pH.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, NY 14642, USA.


The strategies employed by oral streptococci to resist the inimical influences of acidification reflect the diverse and dynamic niches of the human mouth. All of the oral streptococci are capable of rapid degradation of sugar to acidic end-products. As a result, the pH value of their immediate environment can plummet to levels where glycolysis and growth cease. At this point, the approaches for survival in acid separate the organisms. Streptococcus mutans, for example, relies on its F-ATPase, to protect itself from acidification by pumping protons out of the cells. S. salivarius responds by degrading urea to ammonia and S. sanguis produces ammonia by arginolysis. The mechanisms by which these organisms regulate their particular escape route are now being explored experimentally. The picture that emerges is that the acid-adaptive regulatory mechanisms of the oral streptococci differ markedly from those employed by Gram-negative bacteria. What remains to be elucidated are the breadth of the acid-response systems in these organisms and how they permit the microbes to sustain themselves in the face of low pH and the bacterial competition present in their respective niches. In this article, we summarize reports concerning the means by which oral streptococci either utilize acidification to subdue their competitors or protect themselves until pH values return to a more favorable level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center