Toothbrush microbiomes feature a meeting ground for human oral and environmental microbiota

Ryan A. Blaustein*, Lisa Marie Michelitsch, Adam J. Glawe, Hansung Lee, Stefanie Huttelmaier, Nancy Hellgeth, Sarah Ben Maamar, Erica M. Hartmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: While indoor microbiomes impact our health and well-being, much remains unknown about taxonomic and functional transitions that occur in human-derived microbial communities once they are transferred away from human hosts. Toothbrushes are a model to investigate the potential response of oral-derived microbiota to conditions of the built environment. Here, we characterize metagenomes of toothbrushes from 34 subjects to define the toothbrush microbiome and resistome and possible influential factors. Results: Toothbrush microbiomes often comprised a dominant subset of human oral taxa and less abundant or site-specific environmental strains. Although toothbrushes contained lower taxonomic diversity than oral-associated counterparts (determined by comparison with the Human Microbiome Project), they had relatively broader antimicrobial resistance gene (ARG) profiles. Toothbrush resistomes were enriched with a variety of ARGs, notably those conferring multidrug efflux and putative resistance to triclosan, which were primarily attributable to versatile environmental taxa. Toothbrush microbial communities and resistomes correlated with a variety of factors linked to personal health, dental hygiene, and bathroom features. Conclusions: Selective pressures in the built environment may shape the dynamic mixture of human (primarily oral-associated) and environmental microbiota that encounter each other on toothbrushes. Harboring a microbial diversity and resistome distinct from human-associated counterparts suggests toothbrushes could potentially serve as a reservoir that may enable the transfer of ARGs. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number32
JournalMicrobiome
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Built environment
  • Metagenomics
  • Oral microbiome
  • Toothbrush

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)

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