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Leafcutter Ants SAW Exhibition at the Open Venue

11/01/2016   Jenni

A SAW Project took place at Mile Cross Primary School in December on the theme of Leafcutter Ants and antibiotics.  Dr Matt Hutchings from the University of East Anglia and two of his PhD students Rebecca Devine and Sarah Worsley worked with writer Mike O'Driscoll, artist Lara A'Court and teacher Jacqui Harris with her year 4 class. 


Ant SAW team edited SmallMatt brought a colony of leafcutter ants into the class for the children to observe so they could see that these ants are farmers!  They cut leaf segments and carry them to feed to their fungus gardens.  The ants eat the fungus.  To protect the fungus from disease, the ants bodies are covered in antibiotic-producing bacteria that they use to make sure the fungus remains free from infection.  These antibiotics are being studied as part of the search for new sources of antibiotics needed to treat human infections.  The children did some practical science with Matt and his students and then wrote poems based on the ants with Mike.  IMG 3512 for websiteLara then led an art session where the children made their own ant sculptures.  The poetry and art work are on display at the Open Venue in Norwich for the next two weeks!  For more information about the ants and Matt's research see