Honey made by ants could treat some bacterial and fungal infections

Honeypot ants (Camponotus inflatus) hanging from the ceiling of a nest, engorged with nectar

Honeypot ants (Camponotus inflatus) hanging from the ceiling of a nest, engorged with nectar

Minden Footage/Alamy

Honey produced by a sort of ant in Australia has antimicrobial properties that might in the future result in new remedies towards some bacterial and fungal infections.

Australian honeypot ants (Camponotus inflatus) are present in arid areas of central and western components of the nation. Their colonies are made up of strange employee ants and a specialised team of workers known as repletes. These collect nectar that they stuff into their prolonged abdomens, giving them a glassy, amber hue.

“They are basically the holding vessels of the nectar that is brought in,” says Andrew Dong on the College of Sydney, Australia. By regurgitating the nectar, the replete ants produce a honey that feeds the remainder of colony.

For hundreds of years, Indigenous Australians have eaten this honey and used it to deal with sore throats, wounds and pores and skin ulcers, says Danny Ulrich, an Indigenous Australian who assisted the researchers.

In a laboratory experiment, Dong and his colleagues uncovered a spread of bacterial and fungal pathogens to totally different doses of the honey. They discovered {that a} water answer made up of 8 per cent honey killed the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus – a number one explanation for pores and skin and mushy tissue infections that may additionally result in pneumonia or enter the blood, bones or joints.

At a 16 per cent focus, the honey killed some fungi species, resembling Aspergillus fumigatus and Cryptococcus deuterogattii, which might each trigger critical medical issues.

When the researchers in contrast the ant honey to varieties of bee honey with identified antimicrobial properties, resembling Manuka, the ant honey killed a narrower vary of micro organism and fungi. For instance, it was ineffective towards fungi resembling Candida albicans, which might trigger thrush, and micro organism like Escherichia coli, a explanation for meals poisoning. Manuka and different varieties of bee honey killed each of those pathogens.

Most honey made by bees comprises hydrogen peroxide, which is regarded as the supply of its antimicrobial properties. Ant honey comprises a lot much less of this molecule, suggesting that there’s something chemically distinctive about it, says staff member Kenya Fernandes on the College of Sydney. “We hypothesise that it’s most likely to be an antimicrobial peptide that is being produced by the ants.”

Ant honey is uncommon and culturally important to Indigenous Australians, says Fernandes. It’s subsequently unlikely to ever be used immediately in medicines, she says. The staff hopes to establish the honey’s lively compounds so these can in the future be replicated when creating new remedies, says Fernandes.


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