The following people are in this group:
The Oral Microbiology group is led by Professor Howard Jenkinson.
It is estimated that at least 700 different kinds of micro-organism may colonise the upper respiratory tract, including the oral cavity and nasopharynx.
Although the normal microbiota at these sites protects against invasion by extraneous pathogens, many of the colonising micro-organisms are themselves opportunisitic pathogens.
It is important to define the mechanisms by which micro-organisms cause disease, but it is also important to understand how microbes are able to colonise and remain living in harmony with the host.
Oral microbiology research at Bristol involves studies on a range of micro-organisms, their colonisation and virulence factors, and on their interactions between each other and host cells, especially in development of microbial communities.
This research is closely linked with studies of the structure and function of the oral mucosa, and of the secretory immune responses.
Biofilms are comprised of closely packed microbial cells that adhere and signal to one another. The biofilm community is often less susceptible to anti-microbial agents, and therefore difficult to eradicate. Determining the means by which fungal and bacterial biofilms develop will enable new strategies to control infections.
Oral infections are polymicrobial, but many of the bacteria present in the mouth are uncultivable and have to be identified by molecular-based methods. Mapping the components of microbial populations is important for the understanding of disease progression and for studying population evolution.
Bacteria of the genus Streptococcus comprise up to 50% of bacteria present in the upper respiratory tract. Structural and functional similarities between proteins produced by different Streptococcus species reveal common mechanisms in colonisation and virulence.