Publication Date



American Society for Microbiology: mSphere


Co-infection with Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans is associated with dental caries, and their co-cultivation results in enhanced biofilm matrix production that contributes to increased virulence and caries risk. Moreover, the catalase-negative S. mutans demonstrates increased oxidative stress tolerance when co-cultivated in biofilms with C. albicans, a catalase-producing yeast. Here, we sought to obtain mechanistic insights into the increased H2O2 tolerance of S. mutans when co-cultivated with clinical isolates of Candida glabrata, Candida tropicalis, and C. albicans. Additionally, the C. albicans SC5314 laboratory strain, its catalase mutant (SC5314Δcat1), and S. mutans UA159 and its glucosyltransferase B/C mutant (UA159ΔgtfB/C) were grown as single- and dual-species biofilms. Time-kill assays revealed that upon acute H2O2 challenge, the survival rates of S. mutans in dual-species biofilms with the clinical isolates and C. albicans SC5314 were greater than when paired with SC5314Δcat1 or as a single-species biofilm. Importantly, this protection was independent of glucan production through S. mutans GtfB/C. Transwell assays and treatment with H2O2-pre-stimulated C. albicans SC5314 supernatant revealed that this protection is contact-dependent. Biofilm stability assays with sublethal H2O2 or peroxigenic Streptococcus A12 challenge resulted in biomass reduction of single-species S. mutans UA159 and dual-species with SC5314Δcat1 biofilms compared to UA159 biofilms co-cultured with C. albicans SC5314. S. mutans oxidative stress genes were upregulated in single-species biofilms when exposed to H2O2, but not when S. mutans was co-cultivated with C. albicans SC5314. Here, we uncovered a novel, contact-dependent, synergistic interaction in which the catalase of C. albicans protects S. mutans against H2O2.


It is well established that co-infection with the gram-positive caries-associated bacterium Streptococcus mutans and the yeast pathobiont Candida albicans results in aggressive forms of caries in humans and animal models. Together, these microorganisms form robust biofilms through enhanced production of extracellular polysaccharide matrix. Further, co-habitation in a biofilm community appears to enhance these microbes’ tolerance to environmental stressors. Here, we show that catalase produced by C. albicans protects S. mutans from H2O2 stress in a biofilm matrix-independent manner. Our findings uncovered a novel synergistic trait between these two microorganisms that could be further exploited for dental caries prevention and control.


Streptococcus mutans, Candida albicans, biofilms, oral microbiology, oral microbiota, dental plaque, synergism, oxidative stress



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