Investigating Differential Methylation in Apis mellifera Worker Bee Sub-castes

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology



Chief Instructor

Robert A. Drewell

Second Reader

John G. Gibbons

Third Reader

Justin R. Thackeray


DNA can undergo epigenetic modification at cytosine nucleotides by the addition of a methyl group (CH3). These alterations, which are frequently located within the exons in social insects, may regulate transcription and/or splicing of genes. I analyzed the methylome at two developmental stages of the worker caste in the honey bee (Apis mellifera), specifically the nurse stage and the forager stage. The methylation appeared to be mostly in exons relative to the introns and exons. I then examined genome wide methylation between the two sub-castes and noticed twenty-one (21) differentially methylated genes and seventy-one (71) differentially methylated regions. The forager sub-caste had greater methylated regions in the genome compared to the nurse sub-caste. When examining differentially methylated genes, the gene functions including: epigenetic modifications, cell regulation, metabolism and neurological genes, have differential methylated patterns between the two sub-castes.

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