1 Tahrcountry Musings: Wasps Discovered Antibiotics Millions of Years Ago

Monday, March 01, 2010

Wasps Discovered Antibiotics Millions of Years Ago

Some discoveries make you feel humble. I was amazed when I read about the use of   antibiotics by wasps. They have been using it for millions of years. Invading fungal mold and harmful bacteria are major threats to the wasp larvae. The insects were using nine antibiotic varieties to ward off trouble. For us the era of antibiotics began only in 1928 when Alexander Fleming spotted how penicillin produced by green mold killed bacteria. The amazing discovery was made by the scientists of Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany. 
Philanthus wasps use beneficial bacteria to manufacture a cocktail of drugs that protect its larvae from infection. According to the scientists writing in the journal Nature Chemical Biology the insects not only evolved a method of manufacturing antibiotics, they used them in a highly effective way. Philanthus wasps teamed up with a type of bacteria called Streptomyces in a symbiotic relationship that benefited both species. In exchange for the coziness of a home, the bugs produced a cocktail of nine different antibiotics effective against a broad range of harmful bacteria and fungi. 
The scientists believe that the discovery could assist the development of new agents to combat human ''superbugs''.

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