A new Danish study shows ants excrete chemical compounds that effectively inhibit plant pathogens, even where current pesticides are giving up.

Plant diseases, according to a EurekAlert! report, are a growing threat to food production, and various diseases are resistant to the presently available pesticides.

Specifically, this most recent research presents that ants are expelling chemical compounds that efficiently constrain plant pathogens.

Recently, it was found that the African Tetraponera ant, as described in the Ants of South Africa website, is carrying chemical compounds on its body that can kill MRSA bacteria, microbes that are feared since they are resistant to identified antibiotics since they are attacking humans.

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SCIENCE TIMES - Ant Chemicals Used to Combat Plant Diseases; New Study Shows How They Can Substitute Pesticides
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Tetraponera aethiops

Shocking Discovery

Nonetheless, plants, and thus productions of food, are threatened by resistant plant diseases. As a result, plants may benefit from compounds produced by the ants to shield themselves.

In the new research published in the Journal of Applied Ecology science journal, three researchers from Aarhus University have searched through the present scientific literature and discovered a shockingly high number of chemical compounds from ant glands and ant bacteria that can destroy essential plant pathogens.

Consequently, the study authors behind this research now propose that ants and their chemical defenses can be applied to shield agricultural plant protection.

Essentially, ants live in compact societies in their nests and are therefore exposed to high risks of transmission of diseases.

They have, nonetheless, evolved their own medicine to treat diseases. From glands on the ant body and from colonies of microbes that ants are growing on their bodies, these ants can expel antibiotic substances.

Ants' Ability to Protect Plants in the Future

According to the Institute of Bioscience's Joachim Offenberg at Aarhus University, "ants are used to live in dense societies" and, thus, a number of various antibiotics to shield themselves, as well as their colonies.

Such compounds, added Offenberg, have a substantial impact on a range of plant pathogens. As indicated in the study, using antibiotics from ants can be applied in at least three ways: First, through the use of living ants directly in the production of plants.

The second way is through mimicking the defense compounds of ants, and third, through simulating the ant or microbial genes that code for antibiotics and transplant these genes into plants.

The study authors behind this particular research have previously presented that wood ants that were transferred to an apple plantation could lessen the number of fruits infected by two different apple diseases, specifically apple rot and apple scab.

Based on this new research, the study investigators, therefore, point to the fact that ants may be able to exhibit new ways of protecting plants in the future-ways that can be sustained more.

Ant Chemicals

Ants, including tropical, subtropical, and temperate species. Furthermore, formic acid was described as antagonistic to M. fructigena-micine ants, which comprise thousands of ant species. Chemicals accountable were single compounds, including formic acid, myrmicacin, and chemical composition.

In studies where the authors identified the glandular source, antagonistic chemicals came from the mandibular, metapleural grand, and plants' poison.

Related information about ants being better than insecticides is shown on Braino the Explainer's YouTube video below:


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