Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Animal Science

First Advisor

Davis, Jeremy


Research suggests that specific compositions of gut microbiota can directly affect energy harvesting and fat storage, which may indicate a potential role of intestinal bacteria in the regulation of body weight (i.e., obesity). The purpose of the current study was to determine if prebiotic- and probiotic-based diets modify gut microbiota in genetically obese rodents. For this, female Zucker diabetic fatty (ZDF) rats were assigned diets containing fructooligosaccharides (FOS), Bifidobacterium (BIF), or Lactobacillus (LAC) for three weeks. qPCR was then used to measure levels of colonic Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and total bacteria. At termination, there was no significant difference in Lactobacillus levels between diets. However, there was significantly less Bifidobacterium in BIF vs. FOS or LAC-fed rats. The evidence in this study shows there were no significant differences in Lactobacillus levels between any of the feeding groups and the control group, supporting the conclusion that ingestion of any of the tested supplemented feed does not statistically modulate Lactobacillus numbers in female ZDF rats. However, the rats from the Bifidobacterium and FOS feeding groups had significantly higher colonic Bifidobacterium levels than the control group from ingesting the supplemented feed, indicating that the presence of the probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis and the prebiotic FOS stimulated the growth of Bifidobacterium.




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