Graduate Studies


First Advisor

Jennifer M. Auchtung, PhD

Second Advisor

Robert W. Hutkins, PhD

Date of this Version



Christensen, C. (2022). Modulation of the Microbiome by Diet in Infants and Adults [Master's thesis]. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Food Science and Technology, Under the Supervision of Professors Dr. Jennifer M. Auchtung and Dr. Robert W. Hutkins. Lincoln, NE: November 2022

Copyright © 2022 Chloe Christensen


The composition of the gastrointestinal microbiota has profound influences on overall health and on host-microbe interactions within humans. Dietary interventions, and consumption of health-promoting components, such as probiotics and prebiotics, are of interest for their influence on microbiome composition. Functional dietary components are of special importance in the diet of infants because they can be fundamental to establishing a healthy microbiome from the onset of life. An infant diet consisting of mother’s-own breastmilk is considered to the ‘gold-standard’ for infants, however, for many complex and personal reasons, not all infants are able to breastfeed. Breastfed infants and formula fed infants differ not only in their gastrointestinal microbiota but can also differ in developmental benchmarks and long-term health outcomes. Therefore, there is a scientific need for both researchers and industry professionals to identify components within breastmilk to be synthesized and incorporated into infant formulas for their protective, immunological, or bioactive roles, and to ultimately generate products that are more similar to human breastmilk. In this thesis we assess two functional components of diet, live microbe-containing fermented foods and the milk fat globule membrane for their impact on gastrointestinal composition and possible effects on human health.

Advisors: Jennifer M. Auchtung and Robert W. Hutkins