Leafcutter ant with rose petal
Matt Hutchings, University of East Anglia
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.