Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology

First Advisor

Kenneth Krauter

Second Advisor

Kevin Jones

Third Advisor

Noah Fierer


Obesity is a growing health problem in America affecting more than a third of Americans25 and is quickly becoming a global health crisis34. Recently there has been much interest in the possible link between the human gut microbiome and obesity as fecal transplants may serve as a potential therapeutic treatment. However, not much research has been done looking at a potential association with the human oral microbiome and obesity. In this thesis, I examined 976 individuals previously sequenced for their oral microbiome. Each sample was classified as underweight, normal, overweight, or obese, according to their BMI. I measured the microbial diversity of each sample and compared the relative diversity of each class through alpha and beta diversity. Alpha diversity measures the microbial diversity within an individual while beta diversity measures the microbial diversity between individuals. I also investigated whether there was a clear association between monozygotic twins who were discoordinate in phenotype. While phyla-level changes were detected in the different weight class, overall the oral microbiome does not appear to be associated with human weight.