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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Humans humbled by the mighty ant:Ants Destroy Weeds with Antibiotics

It seems new research indicates that like us humans, ants are also capable of utilizing the power of antibiotics for keeping their colonies alive. In fact, this research indicates that ants have used antibiotics within their colonies way before we humans began to use them!

"The research team, based at the University of East Anglia, conducted a series of investigations on the renowned fungus-farming ants, which live in the southern parts of the United States."

"The scientific name of the ants found to use antibiotics is Acromyrmex octospinosus,(also known as leaf cutter ants.) "Researchers found in their studies that these social insects were capable of using antibiotics derived from bacteria in order to keep their fungus gardens alive and healthy.The chemicals are used to keep the growth of the fungus under control, and also to kill various species of invading weeds, that were competing with the ants' plants for space and survival."

Details of the investigation appeared August 26, in the scientific journal BMC Biology.

"The experts say that growing only the right type of fungus is vital for the survival of the colony, given that this fungus is used to feed both the nest's queen, and the larvae. If any harm comes to either of them, the very survival of the colony is jeopardized.The antibiotics that the ants use are produced by actinomycete bacteria, which can be found on the bodies of the ants themselves. The two organisms have over millions of years learned to live in symbiosis."

Dr Matt Hutchings one of the researchers involved in this interesting study was quoted as saying: “We found a new antifungal compound that is related to a clinically important antifungal named nystatin so we're excited about the potential of these ants and other insects to provide us with new antibiotics for medical use,” he adds. States Dr. Hutchings: “It's also very exciting that ants not only evolved agriculture before humans but also combination therapy with natural antibiotics. Humans are just starting to realize that this is one way to slow down the rise of drug resistant bacteria – the so called superbugs,” the team leader concludes."

(source: )

What fascinating research and  all I have to add to this blog entry is that once again we humans have been humbled by an insect! Many humans think our species is so superior to all other life forms and people who believe in this idea, often do so to exploit other life forms on the planet, yet this new research indicates that ants somehow developed the ability to use antibiotics way before we humans did!

This research article mentioned above has the following title and authors:

"A mixed community of actinomycetes produce multiple antibiotics for the fungus farming ant Acromyrmex octospinosus" by Jörg Barke Ryan F Seipke, Sabine Grüschow, Darren Heavens, Nizar Drou, Mervyn J Bibb, Rebecca JM Goss, Douglas W Yu and Matthew I Hutchings and can be downloaded or read at the website by becoming a member (which is free).

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.