Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

80 million bacteria sealed with a kiss

17.11.2014

Partners who kiss each other at least 9 times a day share similar communities of oral bacteria

As many as 80 million bacteria are transferred during a 10 second kiss, according to research published in the open access journal Microbiome. The study also found that partners who kiss each other at least nine times a day share similar communities of oral bacteria.

The ecosystem of more than 100 trillion microorganisms that live in our bodies - the microbiome - is essential for the digestion of food, synthesizing nutrients, and preventing disease. It is shaped by genetics, diet, and age, but also the individuals with whom we interact. With the mouth playing host to more than 700 varieties of bacteria, the oral microbiota also appear to be influenced by those closest to us.

Researchers from Micropia and TNO in the Netherlands studied 21 couples, asking them to fill out questionnaires on their kissing behaviour including their average intimate kiss frequency. They then took swab samples to investigate the composition of their oral microbiota on the tongue and in their saliva.

The results showed that when couples intimately kiss at relatively high frequencies their salivary microbiota become similar. On average it was found that at least nine intimate kisses per day led to couples having significantly shared salivary microbiota.

Lead author Remco Kort, from TNO's Microbiology and Systems Biology department and adviser to the Micropia museum of microbes, said: "Intimate kissing involving full tongue contact and saliva exchange appears to be a courtship behavior unique to humans and is common in over 90% of known cultures.

Interestingly, the current explanations for the function of intimate kissing in humans include an important role for the microbiota present in the oral cavity, although to our knowledge, the exact effects of intimate kissing on the oral microbiota have never been studied. We wanted to find out the extent to which partners share their oral microbiota, and it turns out, the more a couple kiss, the more similar they are."

In a controlled kissing experiment to quantify the transfer of bacteria, a member of each of the couples had a probiotic drink containing specific varieties of bacteria including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. After an intimate kiss, the researchers found that the quantity of probiotic bacteria in the receiver's saliva rose threefold, and calculated that in total 80 million bacteria would have been transferred during a 10 second kiss.

The study also suggests an important role for other mechanisms that select oral microbiota, resulting from a shared lifestyle, dietary and personal care habits, and this is especially the case for microbiota on the tongue. The researchers found that while tongue microbiota were more similar among partners than unrelated individuals, their similarity did not change with more frequent kissing, in contrast to the findings on the saliva microbiota.

Commenting on the kissing questionnaire results, the researchers say that an interesting but separate finding was that 74% of the men reported higher intimate kiss frequencies than the women of the same couple. This resulted in a reported average of ten kisses per day from the males, twice that of the female reported average of five per day.

To calculate the number of bacteria transferred in a kiss, the authors relied on average transfer values and a number of assumptions related to bacterial transfer, the kiss contact surface, and the value for average saliva volume.

Media Contact

Joel Winston
Media Officer
BioMed Central
T: +44 (0)20 3192 2081
E: Joel.Winston@biomedcentral.com

Notes to editor:

1. Research article

Shaping the oral microbiota through intimate kissing
Remco Kort, Martien Caspers, Astrid van de Graaf, Wim van Egmond, Bart Keijser and Guus Roeselers
Microbiome 2014, 2:41

After embargo, article available at journal website here: http://www.microbiomejournal.com/content/2/1/41

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

2. The central purpose of the open access journal Microbiome is to unite investigators conducting microbiome research in environmental, agricultural, and biomedical arenas.

Topics broadly addressing the study of microbial communities, such as, microbial surveys, bioinformatics, meta-omics approaches and community/host interaction modeling will be considered for publication. Through this collection of literature Microbiome hopes to integrate researchers with common scientific objectives across a broad cross-section of sub-disciplines within microbial ecology.

3. BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector. http://www.biomedcentral.com

4. Professor Remco Kort's work represents a collaboration between Micropia, the world's first museum of microbes in Amsterdam and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and scientifically underpins the kiss-o-meter in Micropia. Micropia shows the invisible, introducing a wide public to the world of the microbe. It provides information about current issues, on the importance of microbes to man and nature, and on the opportunities they offer us. Micropia's museum premises, its activities and website connect scientists, politicians, the business community, students, school pupils, journalists and everyone who is interested.

Micropia's kiss-o-meter allows people to discover just how many and what type of microbes they exchange during an intimate kiss. The mouth alone is home to 700 different kinds of bacteria. Despite being invisible, they are among the most successful life forms on earth and Micropia puts them on show. Professor Kort's kissing research exemplifies how Micropia makes the world of micro-organisms accessible to the general public. Remco Kort is a microbiologist and principal scientist at TNO and is Professor of Microbial Genomics at Amsterdam's VU University. He has been an adviser to Micropia for eight years.

For more information on Micropia, please contact Janna Laeven. Telephone: +31 (0) 20 52 33 515 / +31 (0) 6 13 98 70 41. E-mail: j.laeven@artis.nl. Or go to http://www.micropia.nl

5. About TNO

The 3000 TNO professionals put their knowledge and experience to work in creating smart solutions to complex issues. These innovations help to sustainably strengthen industrial competitiveness and social wellbeing. TNO is partnered by some 3000 companies and organizations, including SMEs, in the Netherlands and around the world. On the topic of Healthy Living we initiate technological and societal innovation for healthy living and a dynamic society. For more information about TNO and the five societal themes that are the focus of their work, go to http://www.tno.nl

Joel Winston | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: BioMed Microbiome STM TNO bacteria humans microbes microbial microbiota salivary

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins
27.06.2017 | Salk Institute

nachricht X-ray experiments reveal two different types of water
27.06.2017 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Collapse of the European ice sheet caused chaos

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

NASA sees quick development of Hurricane Dora

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins

27.06.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>