Ants can prevent severe plant diseases by secreting antibiotics

Ants are very useful for plants, and new research created proves that. Researchers have found that ants suppress at least 14 typical plant diseases, thanks to a kind of antibiotic that ants produce through the glands of the body.

In addition, some types of ants actually host the leg and body of a real microbiome, a bacterial colony that secretes other antibiotics.

This study may help find new, harmless recipes for creating new biological pesticides that are precisely inspired by how ants help plants.

Plants that are intimately related to ants are also called myrmecophily plants, but they are never new. Previous studies have already shown that red ants (Formica rufa) can reduce the onset of two serious apple tree diseases. Based on this information, researchers at Aarhus University analyzed the existing literature on the subject and found that ants can control at least 14 serious plant diseases.

According to Joachim Offenburg, a researcher at the Faculty of Biological Sciences who led the study, a pheromone scattered by ants, used to find the way to plants and anthills, has a healing effect. These substances, when extracted from pheromones, can be used as biological control agents in the fight against diseases of cultivated plants.

This research was presented at Oikos.

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