Research report 2012 - Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Symbionts provide antibiotic defense for digger wasps
SummarySymbioses are ubiquitous in the natural environment and enormously important for the survival of animals and plants. A group of digger wasps, the so-called beewolves, engage in a remarkable defensive alliance with bacteria: By producing a cocktail of different antibiotics, the symbionts protect the wasps’ offspring in the subterranean cocoon against mold fungi and bacteria. In turn, the beewolf provides nutrition and shelter for the bacteria in its antennae. This symbiosis already evolved in the cretaceous and may have represented a key adaptation for the evolutionary success of beewolves.