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This low-cost pilot study performed in an animal model attempts to answer the question of whether the estrous cycle affects skin bacteria population size and diversity. In the study, deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) are models because the University of Northern Colorado maintains a colony at the animal research facility, and the rodents have a conveniently short reproductive cycle. Vaginal swabs and flushes were collected for two full estrous cycles to obtain cells for determination of the phase of the cycle and flora samples to examine diversity and population size. We witnessed the vaginal flora fluctuate throughout the entire cycle with most peaks occurring at, or around, metestrus. These results may demonstrate that deer mice, and likely other mammalian species, experience fluctuation in their microbiota during the reproductive cycle. An expansion of the study could include an examination of transmitters of disease in males and females, even humans, to determine if fluctuation in microbiota effects selection.

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