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(NRP-104) Leaf cutter ant

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Leaf cutter ant
Matt Hutchings

A leaf cutter ant Acromyrmex octospinosus, taking a petal to the colony to be broken down and fed to a symbiotic fungus that they cultivate as the sole food source for their larvae and queen. The ants also grow antibiotic-producing actinomycete bacteria on their bodies and use the antibiotics as weedkillers to prevent infection of their fungus gardens. We are analysing these co-evolved actinomycetes at the Norwich Research Park as a potential source of novel antibiotics.

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