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(NRP-81) Fungus-growing ants

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Fungus-growing ants
Matt Hutchings

Top view of the fungus chamber in a captive colony of the leafcutter ant species Acromyrmex octospinosus. These ants collect leaves to feed to a symbiotic fungus which 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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