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Asian Myrmecology, Volume 4, pages 103-120, published December 2011

Provisioning services from ants: food and pharmaceuticals

NEELKAMAL RASTOGI

Insect Behavioural Ecology Laboratory, Centre of Advanced Study in Zoology,
Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi-221 005 (U.P.) India

DOI: 10.20362/am.004008

© N. Rastogi

Abstract: The present review assesses the role of ants in providing ecosystem provisioning services in the form of products such as food and medicine. Many species of ants constitute an inexpensive, protein- and mineral-rich, unconventional human food source. Some ant species are also utilised in traditional entomotherapy by indigenous people, or as a complementary and/or alternative medicine, in many parts of the world. Recent biochemical and pharmacological investigations are increasingly providing evidence regarding the medicinal significance of ant species. The well-developed immune system and anti-microbial chemicals that evolved in ants for defence against pathogens can be exploited for the treatment of human diseases. This important taxon may have enormous potential for providing future benefits to mankind as a source of pharmaceuticals and as rapidly and conveniently farmed minilivestock, for an increasing human population.

Keywords: Ecosystem services, human entomophagy, edible ants, entomotherapy, ant-derived medicines

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