Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition 2022 Tongue Twisters

09 February 2023

Tongue Twisters

Biofilms are thriving microscopic communities – hordes of microbes communicating, trading chemicals, moving and growing stronger together because of their diverse makeup. Here coloured stains highlight different species of bacteria as they colonise an epithelial cell from a human tongue. Pictured under a high-powered microscope, it looks surprisingly like a tongue itself, but is around 10,000 times smaller. Our mouths are home to upwards of 700 types of bacteria, and this oral microflora is influenced by what we eat as well as our general oral health. Learning more about biofilms will help doctors and dentists improve oral medicine, but also teach us general principles about how bacteria live side by side, with a view to breaking up certain types of dangerous biofilms in hospitals and public spaces.

Written by John Ankers

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