The diversity of bacterial species in the human oral cavity is well recognized, but a high proportion of them are presently uncultivable. Candidate division TM7 bacteria are almost always detected in metagenomic studies but have not yet been cultivated. In this paper, we identified candidate division TM7 bacterial phylotypes in mature plaque samples from around orthodontic bonds in subjects undergoing orthodontic treatment. Successive rounds of enrichment in laboratory media led to the isolation of a pure culture of one of these candidate division TM7 phylotypes. The bacteria formed filaments of 20 to 200 mu m in length within agar plate colonies and in monospecies biofilms on salivary pellicle and exhibited some unusual morphological characteristics by transmission electron microscopy, including a trilaminated cell surface layer and dense cytoplasmic deposits. Proteomic analyses of cell wall protein extracts identified abundant polypeptides predicted from the TM7 partial genomic sequence. Pleiomorphic phenotypes were observed when the candidate division TM7 bacterium was grown in dual-species biofilms with representatives of six different oral bacterial genera. The TM7 bacterium formed long filaments in dual-species biofilm communities with Actinomyces oris or Fusobacterium nucleatum. However, the TM7 isolate grew as short rods or cocci in dual-species biofilms with Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, Parvimonas micra, or Streptococcus gordonii, forming notably robust biofilms with the latter two species. The ability to cultivate TM7 axenically should majorly advance understanding of the physiology, genetics, and virulence properties of this novel candidate division oral bacterium.
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