Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science


Microbiology and Immunology


Reid, Gregor


The reproductive health of women is influenced by microorganisms and their metabolites, namely those representing the vaginal microbiota and those producing toxins that are ingested. To manipulate the vaginal microbiota toward a health-associated, Lactobacillusdominant state, an approach adopting prebiotic lactulose was taken. Using batch culture, lactulose supported Lactobacillus maintenance and positively altered metabolites, while not disrupting indigenous L. crispatus epithelial adherence. The vagina also harbours abundant glycogen, but initial assumptions that lactobacilli utilize it were incorrect. I have now shown that glycogen selectively stimulates organisms associated with dysbiosis and L. iners in a self-limiting manner. Other compounds such as environmental toxins have not previously been shown to impact vaginal health. In a cohort of Rwandan women, I found that they were indeed exposed to fungal toxins. In summary, I have shown that microbes, carbohydrates, and mycotoxins can play a significant role in the health of women in Canada and beyond.