IN-FOCUS: Gumming up the works: oral biofilms under the microscope.

Image showing yeast cells colonising a tissue-engineered oral epithelium

Yeast cells (Candida albicans; red) colonise and invade a tissue-engineered oral epithelium (cell nuclei; blue; cytoplasm, green)

The BIOSI Bioimaging Facility has worked closely with Professor David Williams at the Dental School in Cardiff for a number of years. David is an expert in oral microbiology, specialising in microbial biofilms (e.g. dental plaque) and mycoses such as oral candidiases (thrush). Over this time, we have been involved in a number of collaborative studies where we have used confocal microscopy and various fluorescent labelling techniques to investigate the formation, 3D organization and microbial community structure of biofilms grown on tissue engineered oral epithelium, endotracheal tubes and substrates such as dental acrylic and titanium. The research has also evaluated the effect of various anti-microbial and anti-fungal compounds and commercial mouth rinses on biofilm development using fluorescent viability stains. The studies have extended our understanding of how oral biofilms develop and in how they respond to therapeutic intervention, and have resulted in a number of publications (see below) as well as a book cover for a leading text on the subject of Oral Microbiology. It’s a fantastic application of confocal microscopy to a biological problem and, from an imaging perspective, its been something for us to really get our teeth into!


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