Scientists Turn to Leafcutter Ants for Potential Antibiotic | Chicago Pest Control

Scientists Turn to Leafcutter Ants for Potential Antibiotic | Chicago Pest Control

Typically scientists look to bacteria’s living in the Earth’s soil for antibiotics, antifungals, and anti-cancer drugs.  However scientists have now identified a fraction of microbes living on Earth from some unlikely sources; namely leafcutter ants!

According to Dr. Matt Hutchings, a Reader in Molecular Microbiology for the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, says that most of the antibiotics we use today came from discoveries made in the mid-20th century and now disease causing bacteria is becoming resistant to the drugs.  It is Dr. Hutchings’ job to uncover new antibiotics to help fight the resistance of antimicrobials.  Hutchings’ team has focused their efforts on the nests of the South American leafcutter ant for the next generation of antibiotics.

In a statement on the issue Dr. Hutchings said; “We are interested in identifying the environmental signals and signaling pathways that activate production of these natural products and also in finding new strains in unusual places that make novel chemical scaffolds,”.

The leafcutter ant research focuses on the discovery of novel antibiotics made by the actinomycete bacteria that live on the ants.

Dr. Hutchings also stated that; “The bacteria growing on leafcutter ants are a rich source of novel chemical diversity, we have already found new antibiotics and we are confident we will find many more, our hope is that one day some of these will enter the clinical trials pipeline.”

We certainly hope that these ants can provide something positive for the antibiotic industry and humanity outside of being a pest! If you do have pesky ants at your home however make sure to contact a pest control professional.  If located in Chicago make sure to contact the ant and pest control experts at Smithereen Pest Management Services!

About smithereenpestmanagement

Smithereen Pest Management provides IPM pest services to residential and commercial clients in Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri.
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