Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Integrative Biology (MSIB)



Committee Chair/First Advisor

Martin Hudson

Major Professor

Anton Bryantsev

Second Committee Member

Tsai-Tien Tseng


As individuals age throughout their life, they experience muscle tissue loss that impacts their quality of life such as a decrease in their physical capabilities and sometimes even their mental capacity. The process of muscle aging is the key point of this study. This involves the individual’s muscles and the motor neurons that control them. Skeletal muscles are used daily to maintain posture, stand, walk, etc. Throughout a lifetime these muscles undergo damage and need to be repaired. When the muscles are repaired, they express physical changes. The tissue shrinks in size and eventually the composition of the tissue is changed. The change in muscles impact an individual’s physical capabilities. Individuals that experience morbidity have an increased risk of this condition causing severe decline in their wellbeing. With numerous complications that arise from muscle weakness comes a dependent need for the healthcare system that costs billions of dollars each year. With this cost on individuals and conditions the elderly face, it is important to find the causes of this condition that can be treated and allow people to seek preventative measures.

Muscles are controlled by motor neurons that send signals causing them to contract or relax. The neurons are part of the mechanism used to repair the muscle when it is damaged. This is important when studying genetic implications. Previously, researchers focused on studying genes in the muscles that influence this condition, but these attempts were not successful. This proposal shows the novel approach used to study neurons in human sequenced data. By studying genes in the nervous system that have an impact on muscle fibers when aging, a list of genes can be indicated as markers and undergo further experimentation to validate this finding. This data will be informed by experimental data obtained from Drosophila melanogaster for validation. These genetic markers and Drosophila validation findings will be presented at research conferences.