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Ants invented agriculture long before humans started watching ‘ant farms’

Less than a century ago, humans learned to employ antibiotics for medicinal purposes, whereas ants have been using antibiotic secretions from bacteria to manage their fungus gardens for millions of years.

JOE CASPERMEYER: ‘About 50 years ago, the first ant farms took off in popular culture, turning children into backyard scientists. Turns out, a child’s natural curiosity would prove right: We could learn a thing or two about the world from studying ants. Now, a team of scientists has shown that the invention of agriculture — by ants — happened some 50 million years ago. “Ant farmers” used the world’s first pest-control management in the form of antibiotics… Perhaps the ants may know best how to use their precious antibiotics to prevent the rise of antibiotic resistance — which has never occurred in ant colonies.

“Less than a century ago, humans learned to employ antibiotics for medicinal purposes, whereas ants have been using antibiotic secretions from bacteria to manage their fungus gardens for millions of years,” said Christian Rabeling, an assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences within Arizona State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences… Some 10,000 years ago, humans first mimicked the ants’ farming lifestyle. Later, in the 20th century, people turned to actinobacteria for most clinical antibiotics. That the ants have, for millions of years, used similar antibiotics to protect their fungal gardens from pests suggests that we still might learn from their success’. SOURCE…

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