Discover the microbes within!
This unit explores the newly discovered parasitic relationship between a endosymbiotic bacteria, Wolbachia, and its insect hosts. Sections cover various topics in biology, including: ecology, systematics, reproductive biology, symbiotic relationships, biotechnology, and bioinformatics. The materials and protocols are based on ones developed by research scientists at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Lab. This lab can be incorporated into a variety of biology classes at the high school level.
Students go into the field to collect insects, identify the order to which the insect belongs, extract DNA, and perform PCR analysis on the insects to determine if they harbor the Wolbachia bacteria. Additional bioinformatics activities are included to analyze the nucleotide sequence of the bacteria DNA, both for students successful at identifying infected insects, and those whose insects were not parasitized by Wolbachia.
Beginner to Advanced: This flexible lesson allows the teacher to choose the level of complexity according to their needs. With topics in biology, ecology, taxonomy, reproductive biology, symbiotic relationships, biotechnology and bioinformatics, this lab can be incorporated into a variety of life science classes.
Wolbachia in the News
Bacteria-Infected Mosquitoes Could Slow Spread of Zika Virus
How to Beat Dengue and Zika: Add a Microbe to Mosquitoes
The wMel strain of Wolbachia Reduces Transmission of Zika virus by Aedes aegypti
A California City Is Fending Off Zika by Releasing 40,000 Mosquitoes Every Week
Wolbachia Student Laboratory Guide
Sample DNA sequence (for use in the Bioinformatics Module)
Online Insect Identification Key
Key to Insect Orders Mobile App
Using Wolbachia to Suppress Mosquito Fertility
Go to the Teacher Resources page for additional classroom support information.
Add your PCR results to the Bay Area Wolbachia Map:
Please note that the map works best using Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox. Safari is not recommended.
For information on how to add class data, see the Map Instructions.