Discover the Microbes Within! The Wolbachia Project

A Professional Development Workshop, Integrative Lab Series, and Year-Round Partnership

Wolbachia is a symbiotic bacterium that lives in at least 20 percent of the world's arthropods, including insects, spiders, mites, and crustaceans. Wolbachia pipientis have become a model organism to study animal-microbe interactions, evolution, genetics, ecology, and human health. Join us in our studies of this fascinating microorganism.

Discover the Microbes Within: The Wolbachia Project is designed for high school biology educators in an effort to bring real-world scientific research into biology labs and lesson plans with inquiry, discovery, biotechnology, and a culture of excellence. The four core goals of this initiative are:

1. Engage high school students in nature and real-world research

2. Encourage nationwide participation in the collection and of new scientific data on bacterial endosymbionts (Wolbachia)

3. Enhance student interest in science through an integrative lab series spanning biodiversity to molecular biology

4. Give students an idea of what it's like to be a scientist.

Teacher training occurs annually at a spring workshop on the beautiful campus of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA or through special in-service training events. Implementation of the labs in your classroom is facilitated by partnerships with the Wolbachia scientific community, online digital resources, downloadable labs and lectures, a free loaner equipment program, and a DNA sequencing partnership with the program director's lab at the Marine Biological Laboratory.

There is no better way to teach science than to experience it. The integrated lab series brings you initially through the process of discovering new arthropod species in your local fauna that are host to Wolbachia symbionts. The next outcome is to obtain the DNA sequences of potentially new genetic strains of Wolbachia unknown to the scientific community. You could discover entirely new lineages or hosts of Wolbachia! Finally, you can determine the evolutionary relatedness of your Wolbachia strains to other sequences published by scientists in the NCBI national genetic database.

The lab modules can be either individually incorporated into daily lesson plans addressing National Science Education Standards or used as a coherent unit progressively emphasizing the nature of a long-term science project throughout the school year. The full lab series teaches observation, conceptualization, the scientific method, and major concepts in systematics and biodiversity, genomic DNA isolation, biotechnology, DNA sequencing, bioinformatics, and molecular evolution.