Genetic Characterization of the Gut Microbiome of Hajj Pilgrims

  • Christopher Beaudoin

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah, Saudi Arabia, is a unique mass gathering event that brings more than 2 million individuals from around the world. Several public health considerations, such as the spread of infectious diseases, must be taken into account with this large temporary influx of people. Gastrointestinal diseases, such as diarrhea, are common at Hajj, yet little is known about the etiology. The human gut microbiome, collection of organisms residing within the intestinal tract, has been under intense study recently, since next generation DNA sequencing technologies allow for extensive surveying of genetic material found in complex biological samples, such as those containing many different organisms. Thus, using 16S rRNA and metagenomic shotgun sequencing, we have characterized the gut microbiome of over 612 pilgrims with and without diarrhea. Several metadata factors, such as hospitalization and different comorbidities, were found to have significant effects on the overall gut microbiome composition. Metagenomic shotgun sequencing efforts revealed the presence of antimicrobial resistance genes originating from disparate regions from around the world. This study provides a snapshot of information concerning the health status of the gut microbiome of Hajj pilgrims and provides more context to the investigation of how to best prepare for mass gathering events.
Date of AwardMay 2018
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorArnab Pain (Supervisor)


  • Hajj Pilgrimage
  • gut microbiome
  • metagenomic shotgun sequencing
  • 16S rRNA sequencing
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • mass gathering event

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