Food for thought

Ann Wood and her colleagues at Kings College London have discovered the bacteria that feed on the pungent organosulfur compounds that cause bad breath. The researchers discovered that the odor eaters, methylotrophic bacteria, grow on the tongue, tooth plaques, and gum edges and include among their number Bacillus, Brevibacterium casei, Hyphomicrobium sulfonivorans, Methylobacterium, Micrococcus luteus, and Variovorax paradoxus. Intriguingly, the team had previously found that related methylated sulfides found on the feet can also serve as a food source for the same bacteria, suggesting a new approach to deodorizing smelly feet, and breath.