Recently, our own Dr. Jeff McLean had a chance to present at the annual meeting of the American Society of Microbiologists in Boston on his groundbreaking discovery of a parasitic bacteria that lives in saliva. After his talk, New Scientist magazine interviewed him about his work, writing
“McLean and his colleagues discovered the organisms by searching for bacterial strains in human saliva samples. Analysing the DNA of all the species they managed to grow from these samples, they came across a mystery fragment of genetic material. This piece of RNA had been discovered by other researchers before, but no one could tell what organism it came from.
McLean’s team has now shown that this RNA belongs to a bacterium that lives on another species, Actinomyces odontolyticus. When the researchers viewed this species under the microscope, they found that the cells were covered with much smaller bacteria – the first species ever discovered to parasitise another bacterium.”
You can read the whole article here, including the discovery’s potential implications for periodontal health. Way to go Dr. McLean!