Human subgingival plaque biofilms are highly complex microbial ecosystems that may depend on H(2)-metabolizing processes. Here we investigated the ubiquity and proportions of methanogenic archaea, sulfate reducers, and acetogens in plaque samples from 102 periodontitis patients. In contrast to the case for 65 healthy control subjects, hydrogenotrophic groups were almost consistently detected in periodontal pockets, with the proportions of methanogens and sulfate reducers being significantly elevated in severe cases. In addition, antagonistic interactions among the three microbial groups indicated that they may function as alternative syntrophic partners of secondary fermenting periodontal pathogens.
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