F-ant-astic bugs lead the way in development of new ant-ibiotics

F-ant-astic bugs lead the way in development of new ant-ibiotics

The secret life of some species of ant, which may hold the key to addressing the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, will be uncovered at the University of Aberdeen's May Festival later this month.

The ants - including leaf-cutter ants from the Amazon - have been found to use bacteria containing powerful antibiotic effects to defend their nests against invading fungi and microbes. It is estimated that some 700,000 people globally die each year of drug-resistant infections.

Dr Bruno Lopes, a Research Fellow in the University’s School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, and Dr Indrani Mukhopadhya, Research Fellow at the Rowett Institute, will discuss the healing properties of the bacteria during Fantastic Microbes and Where to Find Them, which will take place on Sunday, May 26, in the Regent Lecture Theatre.

They will also reveal many other fascinating facts about microbes, superbugs and bacteria and how they influence our health and well-being. A stall with eBug resources will be available for children, with hands-on games and displays, as well as an opportunity to experience a first-hand view of the microbial world and the vital role they play in our development. 

Dr Lopes said that at about 3.5billion years old, bacteria are one of the oldest living organisms on earth.

“The gut contains trillions of bacteria, including a myriad of ‘beneficial’ bacteria, which keep our gut ticking,” said Dr Lopes

“In fact, half of our body is, in fact, not our own as we harbour as many microbes as we have cells. This means that 90% of cells in the human body are bacterial, fungal or of microbial, some of which make vitamins and other compounds essential to our well-being.

“We very much hope that people young and old will join us for the event to find out more about this fascinating area of biology.”