Symbiotic relationship between ants and bacteria

Posted on January 8, 2006  Comments (3)

Study reveals classic symbiotic relationship between ants, bacteria

Ants that tend and harvest gardens of fungus have a secret weapon against the parasites that invade their crops: antibiotic-producing bacteria that the insects harbor on their bodies.

“Every ant species [that we have examined] has different, highly modified structures to support different types of bacteria,” says Currie. “This indicates the ants have rapidly adapted to maintain the bacteria. It also indicates that the co-evolution between the bacteria and the ants, as well as the fungus and parasites, has been occurring since very early on, apparently for tens of millions of years.”

Furthermore, Currie says, the fact that the species have coexisted for so long means there might be a mechanism in place to decrease the rate of antibiotic resistance – which could help address a significant problem facing modern medicine. “We can learn a lot about our own use of antibiotics from this system,” he says.

Read more about the overuse of antibiotics

3 Responses to “Symbiotic relationship between ants and bacteria”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Parasitic Worms Reduce Hay Fever Symptoms
    February 18th, 2008 @ 4:43 pm

    “Scientists have suggested a lack of such intestinal parasites has left those in the developed world more vulnerable to diseases caused an overactive immune system.” The parasites help calm the immune system because they partially suppress it (for their own good).

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Huge Ant Nest
    August 19th, 2008 @ 12:30 pm

    The nest is engineered with vents to promote the flow of air, bringing in fresh air and expelling carbon dioxide created by the large fungus gardens…

  3. jadan
    January 17th, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

    I guess bacterias dont protect ants from this crazy fungi 😉

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