Wasps used antibiotics millions of years ago

Published on March 2nd, 2010 | by Admin


Millions of years ago digger wasps learned how to harness beneficial bacteria to create a cocktail of drugs that protected its larvae from infection. [Thx Saturn]

The era of antibiotics began in 1928 when Alexander Fleming spotted how penicillin produced by green mold killed bacteria.

But long before, Philanthus wasps were coating their cocoons with antibiotics to fight off harmful microbes.

The insects not only evolved a method of manufacturing antibiotics, they used them in a highly effective way, said the scientists writing in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

Just as human experts have learned to do, the wasps combine different drugs that work together to destroy many different organisms.

The German researchers found that beewolves teamed up with a type of bacteria called Streptomyces in a symbiotic relationship that benefited both species.

In exchange for having a home, the bugs produced a cocktail of nine different antibiotics effective against a broad range of harmful bacteria and fungi.

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