Consistent and reproducible long-term in vitro growth of health and disease-associated oral subgingival biofilms

Irina M. Velsko, Luciana M. Shaddox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Several in vitro oral biofilm growth systems can reliably construct oral microbiome communities in culture, yet their stability and reproducibility through time has not been well characterized. Long-term in vitro growth of natural biofilms would enable use of these biofilms in both in vitro and in vivo studies that require complex microbial communities with minimal variation over a period of time. Understanding biofilm community dynamics in continuous culture, and whether they maintain distinct signatures of health and disease, is necessary to determine the reliability and applicability of such models to broader studies. To this end, we performed next-generation sequencing on biofilms grown from healthy and disease-site subgingival plaque for 80 days to assess stability and reliability of continuous oral biofilm growth. Results: Biofilms were grown from subgingival plaque collected from periodontitis-affected sites and healthy individuals for ten eight-day long generations, using hydroxyapatite disks. The bacterial community in each generation was determined using Human Oral Microbe Identification by Next-Generation Sequencing (HOMINGS) technology, and analyzed in QIIME. Profiles were steady through the ten generations, as determined by species abundance and prevalence, Spearman's correlation coefficient, and Faith's phylogenetic distance, with slight variation predominantly in low abundance species. Community profiles were distinct between healthy and disease site-derived biofilms as demonstrated by weighted UniFrac distance throughout the ten generations. Differentially abundant species between healthy and disease site-derived biofilms were consistent throughout the generations. Conclusions: Healthy and disease site-derived biofilms can reliably maintain consistent communities through ten generations of in vitro growth. These communities maintain signatures of health and disease and of individual donors despite culture in identical environments. This subgingival oral biofilm growth and perpetuation model may prove useful to studies involving oral infection or cell stimulation, or those measuring microbial interactions, which require the same biofilms over a period of time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number70
JournalBMC Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 11 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • Biofilm growth
  • Dental plaque
  • In vitro model
  • Model system
  • Oral microbiome
  • Periodontal disease
  • Subgingival plaque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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