I went to Cameroon to develop international relationships with potential local collaborators. I visited the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Congo Basin Institute (CBI, affiliated to UCLA in USA), which are two well-implanted Institutes in the Yaoundé region. And I visited the University of Yaounde 1, department of animal biology, to give a workshop on insect symbiosis to a group of 25 master and PhD students.

This experience in a country I had never visited before was rich and somehow a little shocking too! Rich – because the human exchanges were amazing, fun and welcoming, the research ideas were innovative, and the will to learn was strong. Shocking – because the access to what I consider ‘basic facilities‘ in my home country are very restricted in Cameroon. But overall I keep an really good memory of this visit in Yaoundé.

Pictures: (Left): the IITA campus; (Right): the Zoology lab at the University of Yaounde 1.

As I took the open networked learning course last semester, I discuss open learning and the possibility to put my course online for everyone to see, comments, criticize (hopefully constructively), and freely re-use (with simple mention of my name). So here it is:

I gave two lectures that are about 1:30h to 2h long with discussion and integrated questions, each lecture was followed by journal club discussion on different articles

First, two of my own articles, because they cover quite a lot of easy vocabulary from insect symbiosis studies, and because I know the study system rather well by now ? We discussed those as a one large group (I did most of the talking really)


Second, the students were divided in small groups and each group presented one of the article below (this worked really well and they actually enjoyed the exercise, according to the feedback I received):

Anbutsu et
al. (2017) Small genome symbiont underlies cuticle hardness in beetles. PNAS

Katenpoth et
al. (2005) Symbiotic bacteria protect wasp larvae from fungal infestation.
Current Biology 15:475-479.

3) Lorenzo et al. (2019) Widespread Wolbachia infection in an insular radiation of damselflies. Scientific Reports 9:11933.

4) Bryant & Newton (In Press) The intracellular symbiont Wolbachia enhances recombination in a dose-dependent manner. bioRxiv.

5) Tan et al. (2019) Symbiotic polydnavirus of a parasite manipulates caterpillar and plant immunity. PNAS 115(20):5199-5204.

Pictures from left to right: After the first lecture on ‘Introduction to insect symbiosis‘, during the journal club on the second day of the workshop, and at lunch with the students and their teachers.

If you ever use the same material for your course, just let me know how it goes for you! Thank you!


Teaching Symbiosis in Yaoundé, Cameroon