Candida albicans as an essential "keystone" component within polymicrobial oral biofilm models?

Tracy Young, Om-Alkhir Alshanta, Ryan Kean, David Bradshaw, Jonathan Pratten, Craig Williams, Chris Woodall, Gordon Ramage, Jason L. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Existing standardized biofilm assays focus on simple mono-species or bacterial-only models. Incorporating Candida albicans into complex biofilm models can offer a more appropriate and relevant polymicrobial biofilm for the development of oral health products. Aims: This study aimed to assess the importance of interkingdom interactions in polymicrobial oral biofilm systems with or without C. albicans, and test how these models respond to oral therapeutic challenges in vitro. Materials and Methods: Polymicrobial biofilms (two models containing 5 and 10 bacterial species, respectively) were created in parallel in the presence and absence of C. albicans and challenged using clinically relevant antimicrobials. The metabolic profiles and biomasses of these complex biofilms were estimated using resazurin dye and crystal violet stain, respectively. Quantitative PCR was utilized to assess compositional changes in microbial load. Additional assays, for measurements of pH and lactate, were included to monitor fluctuations in virulence "biomarkers." Results: An increased level of metabolic activity and biomass in the presence of C. albicans was observed. Bacterial load was increased by more than a factor of 10 in the presence of C. albicans. Assays showed inclusion of C. albicans impacted the biofilm virulence profiles. C. albicans did not affect the biofilms' responses to the short-term incubations with different treatments. Conclusions: The interkingdom biofilms described herein are structurally robust and exhibit all the hallmarks of a reproducible model. To our knowledge, these data are the first to test the hypothesis that yeasts may act as potential "keystone" components of oral biofilms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
Number of pages23
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2020


  • fungal–bacterial interactions, oral biofilm, high-throughput, polymicrobial, antimicrobials, biofilm models


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