The Entomologist Cameron Currie of the University of Wisconsin and his colleagues discovered the methods used by the ants to protect their fungal garden from the attack of parasites.
The researcher said that this discovery paved way to understand the functioning of the natural systems. Ants of the Attini tribe have been studied extensively in the past few years to comprehend the mechanism by which ants tended their fungal gardens.
After the study it was revealed by the scientists that the ants of this tribe carry an antibiotic-producing bacteria on their bodies. These antibiotic-producing bacteria destroy the parasites that affect their fungal garden.
The researches scanned the two species of the Panamanian ants namely Cyphomyrex longiscapus and Cyphomyrex muelleri under the electron microscope and found that they harbored the bacteria in the crescent-shaped pits on their exoskeletons.
The bacteria that are symbiotically associated with the ant species belongs to the Genus Pseudonocarida. The bacteria are present on the faceplates and exterior parts of the ant, which facilitates in the easy dispersal of the anti parasitic agent on the fungus. The ants in turn provide nourishment for the bacteria's survival from the exocrine glands connected to the pits.
In case of other ant species each has its own modification for harboring and providing nutrition to the bacteria. This shows the rapid evolutionary adaptation among the ant species. More than 200 species of ants display this complex symbiotic relationship.
It is found that the antis more inclined to develop the symbiotic relationship with the bacteria rather that use the bacteria as tool in protecting its fungal gardens. This association is seen for as long as ten million years.
This research is very useful for the agriculturist and people in the medical profession. The reason for its application in human medicine is that thought this relation existed for ten million years the parasite has not developed resistance against the anti-bacterial agents.
Researchers say that the ant would have employed different mechanisms to suppress the parasite apart from the one mentioned. The ants apart fro killing the parasites with the anti-bacterial agent uses special techniques to remove the parasite from the fungal gardens.
Hence the Attini ants are und the list of other insects, which harbor beneficial microbes in them. Researchers also say that many more research has to be pursued in identifying other organisms, which harbor beneficial microorganisms.