[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Bacterial infections have been linked to malignancies due to their ability to induce chronicinflammation. We investigated the association of oral bacteria in oral squamous cellcarcinoma (OSCC/tumor) tissues and compared with adjacent non-tumor mucosa sampled 5cm distant from the same patient (n = 10). By using culture-independent 16S rRNAapproaches, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and cloning and sequencing, weassessed the total bacterial diversity in these clinical samples. RESULTS: DGGE fingerprints showed variations in the band intensity profiles within non-tumor andtumor tissues of the same patient and among the two groups. The clonal analysis indicatedthat from a total of 1200 sequences characterized, 80 bacterial species/phylotypes weredetected representing six phyla, Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, Fusobacteria,Actinobacteria and uncultivated TM7 in non-tumor and tumor libraries. In combined library,12 classes, 16 order, 26 families and 40 genera were observed. Bacterial species,Streptococcus sp. oral taxon 058, Peptostreptococcus stomatis, Streptococcus salivarius,Streptococcus gordonii, Gemella haemolysans, Gemella morbillorum, Johnsonella ignavaand Streptococcus parasanguinis I were highly associated with tumor site where asGranulicatella adiacens was prevalent at non-tumor site. Streptococcus intermedius waspresent in 70% of both non-tumor and tumor sites. CONCLUSIONS: The underlying changes in the bacterial diversity in the oral mucosal tissues from non-tumorand tumor sites of OSCC subjects indicated a shift in bacterial colonization. These mostprevalent or unique bacterial species/phylotypes present in tumor tissues may be associatedwith OSCC and needs to be further investigated with a larger sample size.