Comparative analysis of the human saliva microbiome from different climate zones: Alaska, Germany, and Africa

Jing Li*, Dominique Quinque, Hans Peter Horz, Mingkun Li, Margarita Rzhetskaya, Jennifer A. Raff, M. Geoffrey Hayes, Mark Stoneking

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Background: Although the importance of the human oral microbiome for health and disease is increasingly recognized, variation in the composition of the oral microbiome across different climates and geographic regions is largely unexplored. Results: Here we analyze the saliva microbiome from native Alaskans (76 individuals from 4 populations), Germans (10 individuals from 1 population), and Africans (66 individuals from 3 populations) based on next-generation sequencing of partial 16S rRNA gene sequences. After quality filtering, a total of 67,916 analyzed sequences resulted in 5,592 OTUs (defined at ≥97% identity) and 123 genera. The three human groups differed significantly by the degree of diversity between and within individuals (e.g. beta diversity: Africans > Alaskans > Germans; alpha diversity: Germans > Alaskans > Africans). UniFrac, network, ANOSIM, and correlation analyses all indicated more similarities in the saliva microbiome of native Alaskans and Germans than between either group and Africans. The native Alaskans and Germans also had the highest number of shared bacterial interactions. At the level of shared OTUs, only limited support for a core microbiome shared across all three continental regions was provided, although partial correlation analysis did highlight interactions involving several pairs of genera as conserved across all human groups. Subsampling strategies for compensating for the unequal number of individuals per group or unequal sequence reads confirmed the above observations. Conclusion: Overall, this study illustrates the distinctiveness of the saliva microbiome of human groups living under very different climatic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number316
JournalBMC Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2014


  • Humans
  • Microbial community
  • Saliva

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology


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