Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Lisa-Anne Foster

Second Advisor

Benjamin J. Toscano

Third Advisor

Michael A. O'Donnell


The mammalian gastrointestinal tract has a diverse community of microbial species, collectively referred to as the normal flora, that influence the health of the host. Early colonization of this location is essential for the development of a newborn as the presence of these microbes influence the establishment of the immune system, metabolism, and allergy development. Recent research suggests that the fetal gut is colonized in utero and can be influenced by maternal factors, such as diet. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine if the diet of the mother alters the establishment and development of the offspring’s gut microbiome, reflected in a healthy mouse model. The ketogenic diet, characterized by high-fat and low-carbohydrates, and a standard pellet diet served as the experimental treatments. The fecal content of the offspring, born to mothers on each respective diet throughout pregnancy, was analyzed over a 32-week period to track the presence of particular bacterial species throughout development. This project identifies seven species as potential “core gut bacteria” that were used as markers of good health in monitoring the progression of the gut microbiome and changes in response to the ketogenic diet. Species-specific PCR primers were designed for each bacterium based on a unique target gene; however, time constraints prevented the resulting products from being analyzed. In the future, the amplified products from each species-specific PCR setup should be verified by gel electrophoresis and analyzed to determine the relative abundance of the seven bacteria.


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