Selenium, an essential trace element, is involved in many biological processes serving catalytic, structural, and regulatory roles through mechanisms that are not entirely understood. Due to its health effects from either deficiency or toxicity, selenium has been well-studied, with an emphasis towards selenium deficiency which has been shown to cause immune and reproductive issues in animals. To address deficiency, different forms of supplementation have been used, yet few studies have examined selenium’s effects on the reproductive microbiome based on the type of supplementation (i.e., inorganic or organic forms). By examining bovine vaginal and endometrial mucosal samples via 16S gene sequencing, selenium’s effects on overall bacterial abundance and alpha diversity, as well as identification of core vaginal and endometrial microbiomes, were able to be determined. As such, analysis indicate that a mixture of inorganic and organic selenium supplementation results in an increased bacterial diversity in vaginal mucosa, yet a decreased bacterial diversity in endometrial mucosa. Furthermore, treatment with the mixture compared to inorganic selenium alone resulted in the removal of four bacterial groups from the vaginal microbiome, which has potential implications on agricultural, economic, and human and animal health, overall. However, future studies are warranted in order to identify unknown groups and elucidate potential mechanisms of action.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2023


Oliver R. Oakley

Mentor Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Biological Sciences