A Chance Discovery of Endosymbiosis? A Case Study

Written by Kelly A. Hogan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Learning Outcomes:

– To demonstrate evolution in action based on famous endosymbiosis experiments by Kwang Jeon

– To appreciate how scientific discovery is sometimes accidental

– To explore Lynn Margulis’s theory of endosymbiosis and the differences between prokaryotes and eukaryotes

Activity Description: A short case study about two graduate students is used to explore how an accidental bacterial infection in eukaryotic cells can lead to a case of endosymbiosis. Students are asked to research the endosymbiosis theory and think about the evidence to support it. Students should either come to class ready for discussion after completing the activity or time can be given in class to allow students to research with their books and the Internet.

Time Needed: 50 minutes if given time to discuss and research in class (less if students have completed the questions on their own before discussion)

Materials Needed: Internet for student research. Students should be able to compile the information they need from their book and a single website: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/endosymbiosis_01

Activity Instructions: Distribute case study and questions to students. Allow them time to research in class and intersperse with discussion and a mini-lecture. Alternatively, have students complete the case study on their own and discuss it in the next class. http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/endosymbiosis_01 is a wonderful resource and this case study will expose them to this site.

Worksheet: Endosymbiosis Case Study & QuestionsEndosymbiosis Case Study Questions KEY