In silico analysis of the competition between Streptococcus sanguinis and Streptococcus mutans in the dental biofilm

B. Valdebenito, P. O. Tullume-Vergara, W. González, J. Kreth, R. A. Giacaman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


During dental caries, the dental biofilm modifies the composition of the hundreds of involved bacterial species. Changing environmental conditions influence competition. A pertinent model to exemplify the complex interplay of the microorganisms in the human dental biofilm is the competition between Streptococcus sanguinis and Streptococcus mutans. It has been reported that children and adults harbor greater numbers of S. sanguinis in the oral cavity, associated with caries-free teeth. Conversely, S. mutans is predominant in individuals with a high number of carious lesions. Competition between both microorganisms stems from the production of H2O2 by S. sanguinis and mutacins, a type of bacteriocins, by S. mutans. There is limited evidence on how S. sanguinis survives its own H2O2 levels, or if it has other mechanisms that might aid in the competition against S. mutans, nonetheless. We performed a genomic and metabolic pathway comparison, coupled with a comprehensive literature review, to better understand the competition between these two species. Results indicated that S. sanguinis can outcompete S. mutans by the production of an enzyme capable of metabolizing H2O2. S. mutans, however, lacks the enzyme and is susceptible to the peroxide from S. sanguinis. In addition, S. sanguinis can generate energy through gluconeogenesis and seems to have evolved different communication mechanisms, indicating that novel proteins may be responsible for intra-species communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-180
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Oral Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Streptococcus mutans
  • Streptococcus sanguinis
  • competition
  • dental biofilm
  • dental caries
  • ecology
  • genomics
  • in silico
  • infection model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Dentistry(all)
  • Microbiology (medical)


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