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Microbiology. 2007 Nov;153(Pt 11):3809-16.

Uncultivated Tannerella BU045 and BU063 are slim segmented filamentous rods of high prevalence but low abundance in inflammatory disease-associated dental plaques.

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Institute of Oral Biology, Section of Oral Microbiology and General Immunology, University of Zürich, Plattenstrasse 11, CH-8032 Zürich, Switzerland.


Uncultivated clones BU045 and BU063 and Tannerella forsythia, a 'consensus periodontal pathogen', are the closest known relatives within the genus Tannerella. They have been described to inhabit different ecological niches of the human oral cavity. In this study, fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and immunofluorescence were combined to investigate the prevalence and abundance of BU045 and BU063 in comparison to T. forsythia in plaques from gingivitis, necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (NUG) and chronic periodontitis. Phylotype-specific FISH probes identified BU045 and BU063 as elongated thin rods with a segmented structure. Two structurally similar and previously unknown, rare phylotypes (127+ and 997+) were also identified due to partial 16S rRNA sequence identity with T. forsythia. In gingivitis, NUG and periodontitis patients, BU045, BU063, 127+, 997+ and T. forsythia were detected with prevalences of 50/83/71/14 and 81%, 100/100/86/17 and 53%, and 100/100/12/0 and 100%, respectively. Supragingivally, colonization density of all five organisms was generally low, rarely exceeding 0.1% of the total biota. In periodontal pocket samples, however, cell numbers of T. forsythia, but not of the uncultivable phylotypes, were greatly elevated. Our data demonstrate that Tannerella phylotypes BU045, BU063, 127+ and 997+ consist of long slim rods with segments, which, with respect to FISH stainability, often behaved as independent units. The phylotypes are frequent but low-level colonizers of various periodontal disease-associated plaques. Their apparent inability to proliferate to high density seems to exclude any relevance for the pathogenesis of periodontal diseases.

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