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Clonal Diversity and Turnover of Streptococcus mitis bv. 1 on Shedding and Nonshedding Oral Surfaces of Human Infants during the First Year of Life

American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
  • Microbial Immunology
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Streptococcus mitis bv. 1 is a pioneer colonizer of the human oral cavity. Studies of its population dynamics within parents and their infants and within neonates have shown extensive diversity within and between subjects. We examined the genetic diversity and clonal turnover of S. mitis bv. 1 isolated from the cheeks, tongue, and primary incisors of four infants from birth to 1 year of age. In addition, we compared the clonotypes of S. mitis bv. 1 isolated from their mothers' saliva collected in parallel to determine whether the mother was the origin of the clones colonizing her infant. Of 859 isolates obtained from the infants, 568 were unique clones. Each of the surfaces examined, whether shedding or nonshedding, displayed the same degree of diversity. Among the four infants it was rare to detect the same clone colonizing more than one surface at a given visit. There was little evidence for persistence of clones, but when clones were isolated on multiple visits they were not always found on the same surface. A similar degree of clonal diversity of S. mitis bv. 1 was observed in the mothers' saliva as in their infants' mouths. Clones common to both infant and mothers' saliva were found infrequently suggesting that this is not the origin of the infants' clones. It is unclear whether mucosal immunity exerts the environmental pressure driving the genetic diversity and clonal turnover of S. mitis bv. 1, which may be mechanisms employed by this bacterium to evade immune elimination.

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