Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Lisa Anne Foster

Second Advisor

Kathleen Archer

Third Advisor

Claire Fournier


Alterations in the gut bacteria presence and abundance have been noted in certain diseased states like autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The BTBR T+tf/J mouse strain exhibits the three core behavioral symptoms of ASD and is thus used as the model organism to study ASD in this study. Previous studies have shown that a high-fat, ketogenic diet significantly improves all three core symptoms of ASD. The aim of this study was to describe differences between the gut bacteria of healthy mice on standard and ketogenic diets as well as BTBR mice on standard and ketogenic diets. In particular, an unidentified species was found to be significantly present only in the healthy mice, another species was found only in the BTBR/standard diet group, and another only in the BTBR/ketogenic diet group. The identities of these three bacterial species could not be classified due to error in DNA sample preparation and time constraints, but a protocol was created to check the identities of these three species using PCR and gel electrophoresis. PCR primers were created for 10 bacterial species based on Finegold et al.’s work with the gut bacteria in autistic individuals. In the future, the polymerase chain reactions should be conducted on the original DNA samples based the groups in which they were present in each study and the sequencing defect should be worked out in order to classify the three species of interest in a more direct manner. This protocol would use PCR to help determine the identities of these three species of interest.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford Connecticut for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Biology.