How wasps produce their own antibiotics

Illustration for article titled How wasps produce their own antibiotics


We already know wasps are evil incarnate, but according to new research, they may yet have some redeeming features. Female beewolf digger wasps have colonies of symbiotic bacteria that inhabit their antennae and the wasps secrete this bacterial cocktail into the cocoons of their offspring. The bacteria create a potent salve of anti-bacterials and anti-fungals, and is the first known non-human case of prophylactic antibiotics. It's a symbiosis to fight infection, not provide food.

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With human-produced antibiotics facing a crisis of effectiveness, new generations of novel treatments could be gained from researching these wasps and how they effectively combine multiple types of antibiotics. Or the wasps could just become immune to anything we can think of to attack them.

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[Research presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Spring Conference, and published in multiple locations 1,2,3]

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DISCUSSION

wasps, bees, etc never seemed to bother me until i married my wife who's deathly afraid of anything with a stinger. now, through all of her freaking out every time something buzzes past her, she's got me squeamish over them as well.

i'll need to tell her about this. :D