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.