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Importance of Treponema for dental disease in dogs

Last changed: 24 January 2019

Periodontal disease is common in dogs and is initiated by gingival plaque composed of several hundred bacterial species. Some of these species have specifically been pointed out as potential periodontal pathogens, such as Treponema spp.

Treponema spp. are difficult to culture and therefore the majority have been detected by culture-independent methods, such as PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction). This leaves many Treponema spp. uncharacterized and unnamed.

In this study, treponemes were investigated in gingival plaque from dogs with varying degree of periodontal disease with the aim to describe their occurrence and diversity in dogs. The methods used were culture, phase-contrast microscopy, PCR targeting the 16SrRNA-tRNAIle intergenic spacer region (ISR2), sequencing of the ISR2 and phylogenetic analysis.

Treponema spp. were detected in samples from 10 out of 11 dogs and isolates were obtained from six dogs. Both healthy and periodontitis affected dogs were Treponema positive. Phylogenetic analysis, based on ISR2 sequences, revealed a large diversity of treponemes in the study population that were found to be distributed mainly in two groups, corresponding to the human oral treponeme phylogroups II (Treponema denticola) and IV (Treponema maltophilum) genetic groups. They were generally more distantly related to other treponemes in these groups. Treponemes from dogs with periodontitis and dogs with mild gingivitis without periodontitis did not differ in any obvious way.

The results indicate that several phylotypes of oral treponemes are common in dogs regardless of periodontal status.

Link to the publication


Nises, J., Rosander, A., Pettersson, A., & Backhans, A. (2018). The occurrence of Treponema spp. in gingival plaque from dogs with varying degree of periodontal disease. PLoS ONE, 13(8), e0201888.


Annette Backhans
Lecturer at the Department of Clinical Sciences; Swine and Poultry Medicine Unit                                                        

Telephone: 018-672912