In vivo infections using the greater wax moth, Galleria mellonella

Commonly used acronym: Galleria infections

Scope of the method

The Method relates to
  • Animal health
  • Environment
  • Human health
The Method is situated in
  • Basic Research
  • Translational - Applied Research
Type of method
  • In vivo
Used species
The greater wax moth, Galleria mellonella
Targeted organ system or type of research
Virulence assays, pathogenicity and drug discovery


Method keywords
  • Galleria mellonella
  • in vivo
  • Innate immune system
  • drug screening
  • Virulence assays
  • Systemic infections
  • professional phagocytes
  • cytotoxicity assay
  • Needle and bacterial inoculum
  • host-pathogen interactions
Scientific area keywords
  • drug screening
  • Virulence potential
  • Pathogenicity
  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • Infection models
Method description

A calculated number of bacteria is injected through the pro-legs of the larvae. As several entry points are present, this allows to inject virulent bacteria and potential antimicrobial compounds within the same host. The survival of the larvae is scored over time (days post inoculation) until about 10 days. The intoxicated larvae die and become black, rendering the observed lethality obvious.

Lab equipment
  • - Needles and syringes,
  • - Glass petri plates,
  • - Basic microbiology equipment to cultivate the bug of interest.
Method status
  • Internally validated
  • Published in peer reviewed journal

Pros, cons & Future potential

  • - Cheap,
  • - Flexible,
  • - Easy,
  • - In vivo,
  • - Medium to high throughput,
  • - No ethical issues,
  • - Innate immune system close to human,
  • - Possibility of several injections (bacteria and compound),
  • - Adapted for drug screening in vivo,
  • - Excellent cytotoxicity assay for novel compounds,
  • - No need to feed/water them,
  • - Calibrated larvae, antibiotic free, are easy to order and can be kept 2 weeks at 15°C.
  • - Still an infection model,
  • - Absence of the adaptive immune system.

References, associated documents and other information


VIRULENCE; 2016, VOL. 7, NO. 3, 214–229; Galleria mellonella infection models for the study of bacterial diseases and for antimicrobial drug testing Catherine Jia-Yun Tsaia, Jacelyn Mei San Loha, and Thomas Profta

Contact person

Charles Van der Henst


Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
Bio-engineering Sciences
Brussels Region