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Groundbreaking Research: Researchers sequence rare bacteria that cause rampant tooth decay


Tooth decay is the most prevalent chronic disease in children and adults and is caused by bacterial imbalance occurring in the mouth. A team of Illinois bioengineers set out to know more about one particular bad bacterium, Streptococcus sobrinus, that accelerates tooth decay in some people. The team, led by Dr. Paul Jensen, has successfully sequenced the complete genomes of three strains of Streptococcus sobrinus.

So, I invited Dr. Paul Jensen to tell us more about his team’s work and to give us insights on the impact of this work on oral health research. Dr. Jensen is Research Assistant and Professor in Bioengineering at the University of Chicago Illinois. 

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Until next time!

Chiraz Guessaier, CDA Oasis Manager


Tooth decay, or dental caries, occurs when acid produced by oral bacteria demineralizes the tooth structure. The primary causative agents of caries are the Gram-positive mutans streptococci, including Streptococcus sobrinusS. sobrinus occurs in 10 to 14% of carious lesions and is associated with the poorest clinical outcomes, especially among children.

No complete or reference genome exists for any S. sobrinus strain. The current draft genome for the S. sobrinus type strain SL1 contains 54 contigs. It is believed that the complete S. sobrinus genomes presented here are an important step toward understanding the genetic basis of cariogenesis by S. sobrinus


Sales MJ, Herbert WG, Du Y, Sandur AS, Stanley NM, Jensen PA. 2018. Complete genome sequences of Streptococcus sobrinus SL1 (ATCC 33478 = DSM 20742), NIDR 6715-7 (ATCC 27351), NIDR 6715-15 (ATCC 27352), and NCTC 10919 (ATCC 33402). Microbiol Resour Announc 7:e00804-18. https://doi.org/10.1128/MRA.00804-18. 


Read/download the interview transcript (PDF)

Oasis Moment (2.03″)

Full Conversation (7.07″)




  1. Alex Galo September 5, 2018

    That was very interesting. Thank you for the interview. I suspect the best treatment is toothbrush, tooth paste and sugar restriction rather than gene sequencing and vaccines.

  2. Dental Guide January 15, 2019

    Congratulations on discovering bacteria that can lead to tooth decay.Keep up the great work.


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