Student Research Projects

A comparison of the cultivable bacteria from Wolbachia-free and Wolbachia-infected strains of Drosophila melanogaster

Student Marlan Hare, '16
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Biology
Course BIO 489: Research in the Natural Sciences

Abstract

Wolbachia is an obligate intracellular symbiont of many arthropod species and has various effects upon hosts. Understanding the impacts Wolbachia has on the microbiome of hosts could reveal valuable insights into the role this endosymbiont could have in controlling human pathogens spread by arthropods. Yet there is little published work on the influence of Wolbachia on its host’s microbiome. If Wolbachia has an effect on the microbiome of the host, then there should be a quantifiable difference in bacteria populations between infected and uninfected organisms. Surface-sterilized strains of infected and uninfected Drosophila melanogaster were homogenized and dilutions were spread on nonselective growth media to observe total bacteria cell count and the variety of bacterial species. Bacterial isolates were identified using standard growth-dependent methods. In contrast to previous work at VWC, Wolbachia does not seem to significantly influence the microbiome of Drosophila melanogaster, either in total numbers of bacteria or the species recovered. However, the bacteria identified were only species that could be grown under our rather stringent conditions and are not representative of the microbiome as a whole.