Friday, December 25, 2009

Part 2 - Antibiotics from Green Tree Ant (Oecephalla smaragdina) - A Research Proposal

Green Tree Ants' nest partly opened showing papery casing.

Oecephalla smaragdina closeup

Dr Abe V Rotor

The aim of this study is to determine the scientific basis on the claim that the secretion of green tree ant is effective in relieving inflammation and preventing infection of wounds caused by microorganisms. Such remedy is practiced in rural communities in some tropical countries which cover the Itnegs at the lower Cordillera region.

In spite of the advances in medicine and development of modern drugs, the importance of alternative and complementary medicine has not diminished in many areas, mainly for the reason that it is cheaper and therefore, affordable to the masses. Not all folk remedies have the impression of quackery laced with superstition. There must be some scientific basis in many cases. But this remains in the realm of doubt unless proven scientifically.

Validation in the laboratory and through actual cases is therefore, necessary. One such practice that needs to be proved is the use of the secretion and body fluids of certain insects known to have curative power. Ants and bees as one group are renowned for healing wounds, rheumatism, arthritis, microbial infection, and inflammation that accompany such ailments.

Theoretical Framework of the Study


Body fluid and secretion of Green Tree Ant as antibiotic and anti-inflammatory remedy.

Characterization of the secretion’s chemical composition and determination of effective dosages using bacterial test organisms and test animal.

Validation of remedy using GTA secretion, and establishment of its scientific basis.

Statement of the Problem: The investigation of the green tree ant (O. smaragdina), which has been reported to be effective in treating wounds and inflammation using its secretion and body fluid, is the object of this study. It aims to validate such local practice while expanding the knowledge about this topic.

General Hypothesis: The secretions of the Green Tree Ant larva (O. smaragdina), and the adult body extract have antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Specific Hypotheses:There is a difference in the effectiveness of the larval secretion and adult body extract as antibiotic and anti-inflammatory material.
  • There is a difference in the effectiveness between the fresh and dried larval secretion.
  • The preparation from the GTA secretion is not affected by temperature, storage and sunlight exposure.
Scope and Limitation of the Study: The research focuses on the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity of the crude extract and secretion of the green tree ant of the local species O. smargadina inhabiting local plant hosts. Test microorganisms are E. coli and S. aureus, two most common infectious bacteria to man. As previously determined by the researcher, both crude extract and secretion of green tree ants showed negative reaction against Saccharomyces and Candida, thus the study shall be limited only to antibacterial test. On the other hand, albino rats will be used to test the anti-inflammatory property of the insect.

Description of the Green Tree Ant: It is famed as a weaver ant, not on account of its architecture that consists merely of a pile of leaves pulled together, but because of their methods of working. When fastening two somewhat separated leaves together, these ants line up on the edge of one of them, holding onto it with the legs stretched full length behind them, and working together, pull up the other leaf with their mandibles. Meanwhile other ants, with the spinning larvae in their mouths, weave the leaves together. If the distance between leaves is too great for an ant to bridge the gap, the ants form ladders; these not only make possible to pull the leaves closer together, but also serve as a bridge for the weavers. The larval secretion may be extended inward to strengthen earlier ties and provide lining to the brood. It is this secretion that is reported effective as remedy against wound infection, and in relieving inflammation.

The substance also serves a pheromone, a chemical signal for communication between and among the members of the colony. There are also over 30 different substances found in the insect, including hexanol, 1-hexanol, 3-undecanone and 2-butyl-2-octenol. When these four substances were individually tested for their effects on the behavior of the ants, its was shown that hexanol triggered an undirected alarm reaction in the ants, while 1-hexanol on the other hand led the alerted ants in the direction of the source of the scent, and 3-underconone and 2-butyl-2-octenal triggered a biting reaction. What really are the chemical compounds in the insect that possess antibiotic properties. What medicinal properties has the insect's pheromone? ~

References: Useful and Destructive Insects, Metcalf and Flint; The Social Biology of Ants, by Dumpert; Insect World, by Linsenmaier.

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