Viruses may play an important role in the evolution of human microbial communities. Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs) provide bacteria and archaea with adaptive immunity to previously encountered viruses. Little is known about CRISPR composition in members of human microbial communities, the relative rate of CRISPR locus change, or how CRISPR loci differ between the microbiota of different individuals. We collected saliva from four periodontally healthy human subjects over an 11- to 17-mo time period and analyzed CRISPR sequences with corresponding streptococcal repeats in order to improve our understanding of the predominant features of oral streptococcal adaptive immune repertoires. We analyzed a total of 6859 CRISPR bearing reads and 427,917 bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences. We found a core (ranging from 7% to 22%) of shared CRISPR spacers that remained stable over time within each subject, but nearly a third of CRISPR spacers varied between time points. We document high spacer diversity within each subject, suggesting constant addition of new CRISPR spacers. No greater than 2% of CRISPR spacers were shared between subjects, suggesting that each individual was exposed to different virus populations. We detect changes in CRISPR spacer sequence diversity over time that may be attributable to locus diversification or to changes in streptococcal population structure, yet the composition of the populations within subjects remained relatively stable. The individual-specific and traceable character of CRISPR spacer complements could potentially open the way for expansion of the domain of personalized medicine to the oral microbiome, where lineages may be tracked as a function of health and other factors.
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