Volume 88 Issue 11 | p. 54 | Latest News
Web Date: March 4, 2010

Wasps' Nursery Defense

Chemical Ecology: Beewolf digger wasps use bacterial antibiotics to protect the next generation
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: chemical ecology, wasps, symbiosis, antibiotics, bacteria

Cultivating bacteria in one's antennae might seem like an eccentric pastime for female beewolf digger wasps, Philanthus triangulum, but new research reveals that the insects grow the microbial crop to protect their offspring from infectious pathogens.

Just before laying eggs, a female beewolf wasp uses Streptomyces cultures in her antennae as a paint to coat the walls of the underground nursery where she lays her eggs. The Streptomyces bacteria produce a cocktail of nine antibiotics . . .

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