A histological procedure to study fungal infection in the wax moth Galleria mellonella

Eur J Histochem. 2014 Sep 23;58(3):2428. doi: 10.4081/ejh.2014.2428.


The invertebrate model Galleria mellonella is a widely used factitious host to study the microbial pathogenesis in vivo. However, a specific procedure for the recovery and the processing of the infected tissues, important for a better understanding of the host-pathogen interactions, has not been reported to our knowledge. In the present study we describe a new procedure of fixation and processing of larval tissue that allows studying the larval topographic anatomy and assessing the morphological changes due to the fungal infection. Lepidopteran larvae were infected with Candida albicans strains displaying various biofilm-forming abilities. The whole larvae were then examined for tissue changes by histological techniques. We show that comparing cutting planes, serial transversal sections of paraffin-embedded larva result in better accuracy and information recovering. Using this technique, it was possible to preserve the integrity of G. mellonella internal structures allowing the detailed analysis of morphological differences in different experimental groups (i.e., healthy vs infected larvae). We were also able to study strain-related differences in the pathogenesis of C. albicans by observing the immune response elicited and the invasiveness of two isolates within the larval tissues. In general, by processing the whole larva and optimizing routinely histochemical stainings, it is possible to visualize and analyse infected tissues. Various degrees of pathogenicity (strain- or inoculum-related), and the infection time course can be described in details. Moreover, the host immune response events can be followed throughout the infectious process leading to a comprehensive picture of the studied phenomenon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Candida albicans / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Larva
  • Moths / microbiology*
  • Tissue Fixation / methods*