Purdue University Graduate School
OriginsOfSomaticMutationsInHoneyBeeDrones_Shultz_Thesis_2023.pdf (920.98 kB)

The origins of somatic mutations in honey bee (Apis mellifera) drones

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posted on 2023-04-18, 13:33 authored by Riley Rain ShultzRiley Rain Shultz


Mutations drive evolution, generating variation that selection can act upon. Germline mutations are heritable genetic alterations that occur in the gametes prior to fertilization and until embryogenesis. The study of germline mutations is vital to understanding the genetic basis of heritable diseases and evolution. Somatic mutations are genetic alterations across the body that arise post-fertilization in non-gametic cells. Although somatic mutations in most animals cannot be inherited, they can still significantly affect an organism's reproductive success. In humans, for example, cancers can be the result of somatic mutations. Somatic mutations originate from both exogenous mutagens (e.g. UV radiation) and endogenous processes (e.g. DNA replication, aging). Beyond their origins, we know little about the distribution and frequency of somatic mutations across Animalia. Honey bees provide a unique model for the study of somatic mutations as they are haplodiploid: males come from unfertilized eggs and are haploid, while females come from fertilized eggs and are diploid. It is therefore possible to sequence and robustly identify somatic mutations in haploid males. I have developed a unique exploratory study to elucidate the distribution of somatic mutation accumulation in honey bee drones. With this, I aim to investigate processes generating somatic mutations. Our findings demonstrate that variance in somatic mutational load is better captured across individuals rather than within individuals (across tissues). I provide a comprehensive tissue atlas of somatic mutagenesis in haploids. Our findings drive us to enhance our view of mutagenesis from the tissue level down to the cellular level. 


Purdue AgSEED

Purdue entomology startup funding

Project Apis m: 2022-21000-020-06T


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Entomology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Brock Harpur

Additional Committee Member 2

Vikki Weake

Additional Committee Member 3

Aaron Smith