Matabele Ants Treat Nestmates’ Infected Termite Wounds with Antibiotics They Produce Themselves; Further Study May Lead to New Antibiotics for Humans

by Science Writer Kim Woolcock

Matabele ant
Ant social behavior has long been known to be some of the most complex in the animal world. A recent study reveals an unexpected layer, showing that ants provide each other with antibiotic wound care. Matabele ants (Megaponera analis) from Africa eat only termites, and they are often wounded by their pugnacious prey. Untreated, those wounds are usually deadly. However, nestmates can sense infections and treat them with antibiotics produced in their metapleural gland. The paper was published on December 29, 2023 in Nature Communications. It is titled “Targeted Treatment of Injured Nestmates with Antimicrobial Compounds in an Ant Society.”
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