Sara Arbulu

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Sara Arbulu

Research Title: Bacteriocins for a healthy oral cavity (SALIBACs)

Project Summary: Cavities are the most prevalent infectious disease in humans. They are a major public health concern in terms of pain, and impact on general health and life quality, as well as a significant economic burden in EU countries. From a scientific perspective, dental caries is a multifactorial complex disease in which the oral microbiota plays a key role. In this context, bacteriocins are antimicrobial peptides assumed to be produced by almost all bacteria that establish long-term commensal relationships. Metagenomic analysis has revealed a high density of putative bacteriocin genes in the oral cavity, but relatively few studies provide evidence for their ecological relevance.

This project aims at identifying bacteriocin transcripts that are likely to be translated into different functional bacteriocins from healthy mouth saliva, overexpress the most promising candidate genes in heterologous hosts, and ascertain their ability to control cariogenic bacteria on high prevalence cavity saliva.

In order to address these objectives, this project will take an interdisciplinary approach that involves screening of lead bacteriocins by state of the art next generation sequencing RNASeq techniques and quantitative real time PCR, functional expression and heterologous production of the best bacteriocin matches and evaluation of the impact of recombinant bacteriocins on the microbial diversity of saliva. Data from this study has the potential for commercialisation and findings of this project will target the research community, oral health related industries as well as the general public.