Complex polymicrobial biofilm communities are abundant in nature particularly in the human oral cavity where their composition and fitness can affect health. While the study of these communities during disease is essential and prevalent, little is known about interactions within the healthy plaque community. Here we describe interactions between two of the most abundant species in this healthy microbiome, Haemophilus parainfluenzae and Streptococcus mitis. We discovered that H. parainfluenzae typically exists adjacent to mitis group streptococci in vivo with which it is also positively correlated based on microbiome data.

By comparing in vitro coculture data to ex vivo microscopy we revealed that this co-occurrence is density dependent and further influenced by H2O2 production. We discovered that H. parainfluenzae utilizes a more redundant, multifactorial response to H2O2 than related microorganisms and that this system’s integrity enhances streptococcal fitness. Our results indicate that mitis group streptococci are likely the in vivo source of NAD for H. parainfluenzae and also evoke patterns of carbon utilization in vitro for H. parainfluenzae similar to those observed in vivo.

Our findings describe mechanistic interactions between two of the most abundant and prevalent members of healthy supragingival plaque that contribute to their in vivo survival.

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