Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Anna Seekatz

Committee Member

Dr. Kristi Whitehead

Committee Member

Dr. David Karig


Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are products of bacterial fermentation that help maintain important gut functions such as the intestinal barrier, signaling, and immune homeostasis. The main SCFAs acetate, propionate, and butyrate have demonstrated beneficial effects for the host, including importance in combatting infections caused by pathogens such as Clostridioides difficile. C. difficile infection (CDI) is a public health concern and causes 30,000 deaths each year mainly due to the overuse of antibiotics. Despite the potential role of SCFAs in mitigating C. difficile infection, their direct effect on C. difficile remains unclear. Through a set of in-vitro experiments, we investigated how SCFAs influence C. difficile growth, sporulation, and toxin production directly. Our data shows that butyrate decreased growth but increased sporulation and toxin production in C. difficile strain 630. RNA-Seq analysis showed that butyrate influenced the expression of cellular processes/signaling, information storage/processing, cell division and chromosome partitioning, and amino acid metabolism genes/pathways. Collectively, these data suggest that butyrate influences C. difficile growth and virulence by modifying its metabolism.



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