Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

W Andrew Clark

Thesis Professor Department

Rehabilitative Health Sciences

Thesis Reader(s)

Sean Fox


The gut microbiota and its metabolites have vast impacts on the human digestive system, immune system, and health outcomes. Short chain volatile fatty acids (SCVFAs) present in feces can be representative of the interactions of the microbiota present in the gut. Low microbiota diversity in the human gut is highly associated with obesity and adverse health outcomes. Furthermore, the maternal microbiome has a direct impact on neonatal microbiota through various pathways such as environment, skin flora, breast milk composition, and vaginal secretions. This study is aimed to further understand the associations between various factors (maternal adiposity, gestational time, length of life, delivery mode, and race/ethnicity ) and neonatal microbiome and its metabolites, SCFA. Data (pre-pregnancy BMI, gestational time, length of life at time of sample collection, delivery mode, race/ethnicity, SCVFA profiles, fecal fermentation profiles, and 16s rRNA sequences, n=75) was obtained from 75 mother-infant dyads. Qiagen CLC Genomics Workbench was used to process 16s RNA data, generate quantitative and qualitative measures of alpha and beta diversity, and generate an analysis of the composition of microbiomes for differential abundances. Multiple metrics were analyzed for alpha and beta diversity and no significant differences were found for acetic acid (A), propionic acid (P), butyric acid (B), or APB combined. Shannon diversity index, a measure of Alpha diversity, showed no significant difference between groups in each subset. BMI differences were significant for no c-section vs. c-section and Black vs. White race/ethnicity. There were no significant differences found in PERMANOVA, a measure of beta diversity, or found in differential abundances among the groups.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.