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Filifactor alocis - involvement in periodontal biofilms

Sebastian Schlafer1, Birgit Riep2, Ann L Griffen3, Annett Petrich1, Julia Hübner1, Moritz Berning1, Anton Friedmann2, Ulf B Göbel1 and Annette Moter1*

Author affiliations

1 Institut für Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Dorotheenstraße 96, 10117 Berlin, Germany

2 Abteilung Parodontologie, Centrum für Zahn-, Mund- und Kieferheilkunde, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Aßmannhauser Straße 4-6, 14197 Berlin, Germany

3 Section of Pediatric Dentistry, College of Dentistry, Ohio State University, 305 W. 12th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:66  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-66

Published: 1 March 2010



Bacteria in periodontal pockets develop complex sessile communities that attach to the tooth surface. These highly dynamic microfloral environments challenge both clinicians and researchers alike. The exploration of structural organisation and bacterial interactions within these biofilms is critically important for a thorough understanding of periodontal disease. In recent years, Filifactor alocis, a fastidious, Gram-positive, obligately anaerobic rod was repeatedly identified in periodontal lesions using DNA-based methods. It has been suggested to be a marker for periodontal deterioration. The present study investigated the epidemiology of F. alocis in periodontal pockets and analysed the spatial arrangement and architectural role of the organism in in vivo grown subgingival biofilms.


A species-specific oligonucleotide probe, FIAL, was designed and evaluated. A total of 490 subgingival plaque samples were submitted to PCR and subsequent dot blot hybridization to compare the prevalence of F. alocis in patients suffering from generalized aggressive periodontitis (GAP), chronic periodontitis (CP), and control subjects resistant to periodontitis. Moreover, a specially designed carrier system was used to collect in vivo grown subgingival biofilms from GAP patients. Subsequent topographic analysis was performed using fluorescence in situ hybridization.

While the majority of patients suffering from GAP or CP harboured F. alocis, it was rarely detected in the control group. In the examined carrier-borne biofilms the organism predominantly colonized apical parts of the pocket in close proximity to the soft tissues and was involved in numerous structures that constitute characteristic architectural features of subgingival periodontal biofilms.


F. alocis is likely to make a relevant contribution to the pathogenetic structure of biofilms accounting for periodontal inflammation and can be considered an excellent marker organism for periodontal disease.