What research can be done with the salivary microbiome?

There are, on average 10 mines more bacterial cells than human cells in the human body. The presence of these nearly 100 tril-lion bacterial cells is not inconsequential. They influence our immune response, nutrient absorption, weight retention, and many other health aspects. Of these 100 trillion bacterial cells, there are about 1000 different species. Some are in a synergistic relationship with their human hosts while others are beneficial and others detrimental to human health, depending upon the balance they present to the human body. Bacterial communities may vary between individuals and across populations and thus be a major contributor to human biodiversity.

The Cobb Research Laboratory is collaborating with colleagues at Howard University and the University of Maryland to study the microorganisms in human saliva. We just completed the first stages of the collection of saliva from nearly 600 individuals dur-ing the recent Workshop and DNA Collection event. Oral micro-biomes have been correlated with cardiovascular disease, pneu-monia, stroke, and preterm birth. The oral microbiome is also influenced by such external factors as food and dental status and there is a high degree of between individual variations in the oral microbiome.

We hope to study how the structure and diversity of the oral microbiome varies across healthy human hosts of different an-cestry and in different seasons. Dr. Courtney Robinson of the Department of Biology will be leading many of these studies. ***

Cobb Lab