Leaf Cutter Ants

Leaf cutter ants could be called the overachievers of the insect world. They are farmers, medicine makers, and green energy producers. With support from the National Science Foundation, bacteriologist Cameron Currie studies the complex evolutionary relationships between the ants, the fungi they cultivate and eat, and the bacteria that influence this symbiosis.  At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Currie works with the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center on campus to explore how the ants manage to degrade cellulose.  Her goal is to discover new ways humans might break down biomass into biofuels.  The bacteria component of the ant colony could also help scientists develop more effective antibiotics for human health and agriculture. 

Provided by the National Science Foundation

Runtime: 2:28

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