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Biotechnology Advances
Volume 55, 2022, 107903

Droplet-based microsystems as novel assessment tools for oral microbial dynamics

Ekeoma U. Uzoukwua, Vienvilay Phandanouvong-Lozanob, Huda Usmanb, Charles S. Sfeirc,g,h,i,j, Tagbo H.R. Niepab,c,d,e,f,j

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


The human microbiome comprises thousands of microbial species that live in and on the body and play critical roles in human health and disease. Recent findings on the interplay among members of the oral microbiome, defined by a personalized set of microorganisms, have elucidated the role of bacteria and yeasts in oral health and diseases including dental caries, halitosis, and periodontal infections. However, the majority of these studies rely on traditional culturing methods which are limited in their ability of replicating the oral microenvironment, and therefore fail to evaluate key microbial interactions in microbiome dynamics. Novel culturing methods have emerged to address this shortcoming. Here, we reviewed the potential of droplet-based microfluidics as an alternative approach for culturing microorganisms and assessing the oral microbiome dynamics. We discussed the state of the art and recent progress in the field of oral microbiology. Although at its infancy, droplet-based microtechnology presents an interesting potential for elucidating oral microbial dynamics and pathophysiology. We highlight how new findings provided by current microfluidic-based methodologies could advance the investigation of the oral microbiome. We anticipate that our work involving the droplet-based microfluidic technique with a semipermeable membrane will lay the foundations for future microbial dynamics studies and further expand the knowledge of the oral microbiome and its implication in oral health.

Keywords: Microfluidics, Oral cavities, Tooth, Oral microbiome, Nanocultures, Unculturable, Microbes, Bacteria.

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