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Something Old and Something New: An Update on the Amazing Repertoire of Bacteriocins Produced by Streptococcus salivarius


Streptococcus salivarius has an exclusive and intimate association with humans. We are its sole natural host, and its contribution to the relationship appears overwhelmingly benevolent. Beautifully adapted to its preferred habitat, the human tongue, it only rarely ventures far from this location in the healthy host and indeed appears ill-equipped to become invasive due to a scarcity of virulence attributes. We consider that its strategically advantageous lingual location and numerical predominance allow S. salivarius to carry out a population surveillance and modulation role within the oral microbiota. Some strains are armed with complex arrays of targeted antibiotic weaponry, much of which belongs to the lantibiotic class of bacteriocins and a key to their ability to assemble and utilize this armament is their possession of transmissible multi-bacteriocin-encoding megaplasmid DNA. This review traces the origins of research into S. salivarius bacteriocins and bacteriocin-like inhibitory substances, showcases some of the inhibitory activities that we currently have knowledge of, and speculates about potential directions for ongoing investigation and probiotic application of this previously under-rated human commensal.

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Correspondence to John R. Tagg.

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Wescombe, P.A., Heng, N.C.K., Burton, J.P. et al. Something Old and Something New: An Update on the Amazing Repertoire of Bacteriocins Produced by Streptococcus salivarius . Probiotics & Antimicro. Prot. 2, 37–45 (2010).

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  • Streptococcus salivarius
  • Bacteriocins
  • BLIS
  • Streptococcus pyogenes
  • Bacterial interference
  • Streptococcal pharyngitis
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance
  • Probiotics