|Streptococcus mutans is a
heterotrophic organism. This means that Streptococcus mutans
cannot synthesize reduced organic compounds from inorganic sources
and that it must obtain them by eating other organisms (Freeman).
A heterotrophic organism must live off of another organism by eating
another organism or using them as a host. The
human oral cavity is the host of S. mutans.
How does S. mutans eat?
mutans have no mouth but they do posses special channels in
their cell walls and membranes which allow or aid molecules to
cross. This is how they get their food. However the
surrounding environment of S. mutans is not always full of
free-floating molecules to feed off of. Instead the molecules
may be bound together in tissues in the human mouth. If this
is the case the bacteria leak enzymes out into the environment
around them which attack the specific tissues and break them down
into small pieces. When the tissue is small enough they are
consumed by the bacteria.
What does S. mutans eat?
S. mutans metabolizes high
molecular weight dextrans and other glucans from sucrose but not
from other sugars. This sucrose is then used to produce polysaccharides. These
polysaccharides are stored to be later utilized as reserve
carbon and energy sources for construction of lactic acid which aids
in the destruction of tooth enamel.
Questions or Comments?