Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Basic Biomedical Science

First Advisor

Dr. Jose Pietri

Second Advisor

Dr. Jeff Wesner

Third Advisor

Dr. Bernie Wone


Wolbachia, Infection, Disease control, Fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, bed bugs, Cimex lectularius, Cell cultures, Methods, Microscopy, Punctae

Subject Categories

Biochemistry | Biology | Entomology | Molecular Biology | Virus Diseases


The common intracellular endosymbiont genus of bacteria called Wolbachia is of interest due to the promise it shows for playing a role in disease control. Wolbachia have a number of widely variable effects on its many species of host insects. In combination with these roles, Wolbachia largely affects reproduction and development of its host species. It can lead to feminization and cytoplasmic incompatibility (Werren et al. 2008). Furthermore, this species is vertically transmitted which means that it passes from mother to offspring (Caragata et al., 2016). In combination with its effects on reproduction, which can allow Wolbachia to propagate through a species following its introduction, the role that Wolbachia play on immunity to pathogens are what has caused it to be considered as a possible biological tool to minimize disease transmission to human populations. The current study sought to improve lab techniques as they can be used to study Wolbachia through infection of cell cultures. In this study, cell lines of fruit flies, or Drosophila melanogaster, were cultivated and infected with Wolbachia isolated from bed bugs (Cimex lectularius). Microscopy was used to look for indications of desired Wolbachia infection. Results of this study include determination of optimal centrifuge settings and dye technique for this process as well as the necessity of filter use. Finally, the study concluded that juvenile/nymph bed bugs were most useful for Wolbachia extraction.



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