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By visiting three stations, each equipped with microscopes, slides, live materials and various supplies arranged by the teacher, the students will observe three symbiotic relationships involving microbes.  The students prepare wet mounts to observe the microbial symbionts found in the termite gut, lichen, and Rhizobium root nodules.

Intended Audience 

5-8 X
9-12 X


Learning Objectives

By completing this activity, the student will be able to:
  1. Describe different types of symbiotic relationships.
  2. Identify three mutually symbiotic relationships involving a microbe and another microbe, an animal or a plant. 
  3. Describe the microbial symbionts in the termite gut, a lichen, and a legume.
  4. Identify how these symbiotic relationships benefit both partners.
  5. Transfer and apply the principles presented in this activity to other examples of symbiosis.
  6. Prepare a wet mount slide of termite hindgut to observe endosymbionts.
  7. Use the squash technique to prepare lichen and root nodules.

Necessary Student Background

None required.


Ecology; Microbial Ecology, Endosymbiosis, Evolution, Microbial Interactions

Print a PDF of this activity

“I Can’t Live Without You!” A Close-up Examination of Microorganisms Involved in Mutually Beneficial Symbiotic Relationships (19 pages)