Katarzyna Ignasiak, Tony Maxwell and Ian Bedford (JIC)
Death's-head hawkmoth larvae (Acherontia atropos).
Scientists at the John Innes Centre on the Norwich Research Park are investigating plants as a potential source of novel antibacterial agents. Using plant-insect pairs, such as the death's-head hawkmoth larva (shown here feeding on potato leaves and in two different morphs - brown and green), bacteria is isolated from the insect gut. Where the researchers find evidence for resistance to known antibiotics in the gut bacteria, they hypothesise that there are antibacterial compounds in the food plant. When isolated and identified, these compounds may provide novel sources of antibiotics.