Formation of biofilm is a crucial step in pathogenesis of many microbial pathogens and a hindrance to treatment and eradication in many infections. This is particularly pertinent in the oral cavity where bacteria are often present in vivo as part of dental plaque that forms different environmental niches within the mouth. Our studies so far have focused mainly on the periodontal pathogen Tannerella forsythia on which we performed the first proteomic analysis of biofilm formation in collaboration with Professor Phil Wright and Dr Joss Noirel at the Dept of Chemical and Biological Enginieering here in Sheffield, revealing several adaptations made to biofilm life. We identified increases in oxidative stress resistance, butyrate production and sialic acid metabolic pathways (Pham et al., 2010).
We continue to work in this area and have recently examined the molecular basis of the interaction of T. forsythia with the ubiquitous oral anaerobe Fusobacterium nucleatum with a view to expanding our work into examination of the proteome in relevant mixed biofilms.