Scientists are Still Making Discoveries on Old Ground

Closeup Of A MouthDark matter is so mysterious that scientists know more about what it is not, than what it actually is. It is so nebulous that it has become an adjective for anything that is impossible to investigate. Even industries as far from astronomy as anyone can get have subjects that can become dark matter analogy.

Dental Dark Matter

According to, dentistry is one of those industries. Candidate Phylum TM7 is a bacteria group that doctors think cause inflammatory mucosal disease. Recently, scientists have shed new light on TM7s role in the progression of gum disease, along with the behaviour of other elusive bacteria.

One of the most important discoveries of the decade is that the human body contains ten times more bacterial cells than human cells. What is even scarier than that is that half of those cells are still mysteries to researchers, and TM7 is one of them. The problem with these dark matter microbes is that these are incredibly difficult to replicate for study.

A Bacterial Relationship

Fortunately, researchers found a way to cultivate a specific type of TM7 called TM7x.  This type was commonly found in people’s mouths. The scientists wanted to see how such a mysterious bacteria survived within the human body and exposed it to another mouth microbe – Actinomyces odontolyticus, or XH001.

Researchers found that TM7x attached itself to XH001 and proceeded to engage in a long-term parasitic relationship. This is probably the first demonstrable instance of a signalling interaction between a bacterium and an infectious agent. Scientists exposed TM7x to other bacteria strains found in the mouth, but only bonded with XH001.

The researchers plan to continue studying the relationship between XH001 and TM7x to see how exactly they affect gum disease, as well as how they cause musical disease together. Their findings can lead to new dental treatments and therapies that use bacteria against bacteria.

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