Dental caries, also known as cavities or dental decay, effects children at a rate five times higher than asthma in the United States. This disease is highly preventable but causes extreme pain and costs millions of dollars to treat every year. The presence of Streptococcus mutansand Streptococcus sobrinusplays a major role in the development and progression of tooth decay; therefore, it is important to establish colonization of these bacteria to assess the risk of developing the disease. Streptococcus bacteria are difficult to grow, extract, and sequence due to strict necessary growth conditions. In this study, we evaluated the performance of different storage and culturing protocols and developed strategies for reducing interference by unwanted bacterial and fungal genomes when sequencing extracted samples. We compared storage conditions of samples at various temperatures, and with and without glycerol. We decided the best storage method was at −80 °C in a specialized solution known as Aimes. When sequencing cultures, we encountered various unwanted bacterial and fungal genomes. To reduce this, we modified our culturing methods by including growth in anaerobic conditions and using serial isolation streaking. These modifications have limited the growth of aerobic specimens and increased culture purity before extraction. With this study, we will be able to better understand the oral microbiome and aim to identify virulence factors in S. mutans and S. sobrinus that contribute to the high rates of dental caries in children.


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