Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Veterinary Clinical Sciences

Document Type



A series of translational comparative studies were performed to investigate the effects of the maternal microbiome on reproductive function and outcomes. With the launch of the human microbiome project in 2007, the next generation sequencing of microbiomes is booming. It is not only in the human medicine field, but also in veterinary species. This study specifically investigates the fecal microbiome in blood pressure high sublime 5 (BPH/5) mouse model that spontaneously develops preeclampsia (PE) and obesity. Additionally, the equine reproductive tract microbiome was explored and compared to microbiome of other host body sites. The BPH/5 mouse is a translational model that demonstrates the main features of human PE, a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy with high morbidity and mortality in both the mother and offspring. Gestating in a preeclamptic environment is associated with lifelong risk of cardiometabolic disease in the offspring. Adult BPH/5 female mice have an adverse cardiometabolic phenotype, hypertension, obesity with increased white adipose tissue (WAT), hyperphagia, and dyslipidemia that is exaggerated by pregnancy. Interestingly in humans, gut microbial dysbiosis is found in obese as well as hypertensive patients. Therefore, our first study was to characterize the maternal fecal microbiome associated with the development of PE in the BPH/5 mouse model to determine if gut dysbiosis is present. Our study is novel because our mouse model does not need dietary, medical, or surgical intervention to develop signs of PE. This allows for investigations and interventions to begin prior to pregnancy or early gestation when the disease originates. Our second study aimed to identify whether the male offspring born to preeclamptic dams share the same cardiometabolic disease as their female offspring counterparts. The next step in this research was to implement an intervention. A feeding paradigm was used to prevent maternal obesity and determine the effects on offspring outcomes. The final aim was a comparative equine study to characterize the placental microbiome and determine associations between other body sites’ microbial communities. Future studies would be to characterize BPH/5 and diseased equine placentas that may harbor microbial dysbiosis and leads to adverse pregnancy outcomes in dam and offspring.



Committee Chair

Sones, Jenny L.