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Ants with a developed health care system – nature's side

Ants with a developed health care system – nature's side

Eric Frans, from the Julius Maximilians University (JMU) Würzburg, continues to study ants of this type Megabonera AnalystLiving south of the Sahara. In the past, he has, among other things, written studies on carrying them home and caring for the injured. This time he and Laurent Keller of the University of Lausanne took a closer look at how they treated the wounded.

Megabonera Analyst They eat only termites, but these predators can defend themselves, and ants are sometimes injured while being pursued. It's especially bad if the wounds get infected. But both researchers now show that ants can distinguish between infected wounds and uninfected ones. If ants discover an infected wound on one of their relatives, this is treated with antibiotics, which are produced by the ants themselves.

Reduces deaths by 90 percent

Infected wounds receive treatment with antimicrobial compounds and proteins from the gland on their chest. Ant management is very effective. The mortality rate among infected individuals is reduced by 90 percent.

– Except for humans, I know of no other organism that can perform such sophisticated medical wound treatments, says Eric Frank.

Next, Eric Frank wants to check whether other ant species and other social animals have similar forms of treatment and also analyze the antibiotics used by Matabele ants.

More about Megaponera ants and Eric Frank's research can be seen in the Netflix series “Life on Our Planet.”

sources: Nature Communications And University of Würzburg