Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Bioinformatics & Computational Biology


Lactobacillus is a predominant species of the urogenital tract and it has been found in females with and without lower urinary tract symptoms. The Lactobacillus genus is thought to be beneficial to the host due to its capability to produce hydrogen peroxide, secondary metabolites, and lactic acid. L. jensenii is an organism frequently isolated from the urogenital tract. In March 2020, a new sister taxon of L. jensenii was described, L. mulieris. Shortly thereafter we produced a genomic analysis of all publicly available genomes (n = 43) which reclassified some L. jensenii as L. mulieris. This motivated the in-depth study of the difference between L. jensenii and L. mulieris presented here which included expanding our collection of representatives of these two species to 61 strains. Genome analysis was conducted including the examination of their core genome as well as secondary metabolites, prophages and virulence factors. Complementing this genetic analysis, urinary strains of both species were phenotyped for urinary tract relevant characteristics, including sugar metabolism, pH and hydrogen peroxide production. Lastly, in an effort to ascertain the prevalence of these two species in the urinary tract, we found that the 16S rRNA gene sequence was insufficient, prompting our design of new gene markers that could specifically detect L. jensenii and L. mulieris while also being able to distinguish between the two. Using one of these gene markers, I assayed 190 urine samples and found that none of them contained either species. This led me to examine 233 urinary metagenomes for evidence of these gene markers, finding L. jensenii in only six samples and L. mulieris in two samples. These results suggest that L. jensenii and L. mulieris are not as abundant in the urinary microbiota as previously thought.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.