Amazonian Frog's Skin Contains Chemicals That Mimic Ant Pheromones

Posted on October 20, 2016

An Amazonian frog has special chemicals on its skin that enable it to live among leaf-cutter ants with getting bitten. The chemicals mimic ant pheromones and keeps the ants from attacking the frog. The aggressive ants attack other insects, reptiles and amphibians they encounter.

The research was led by André Barros of the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Brazil. The chemicals on the frog act like a protective shield. The frog, Lithodytes lineatu, is known as Sapito Listado. It is a South American frog that builds its nest right in the midst of leaf-cutting ants.

The researchers studied the chemicals found on Sapito Listado's skin on frogs from other species. They found that the frogs covered with the chemical were protected from ant attacks. Frogs not given the chemical were attacked by the ants.

Barros says in a statement, "Our results demonstrate that the skin of frog Lithodytes lineatus has chemicals that prevent the attack of two species of leaf-cutting ants. It therefore seems that Lithodytes lineatus has chemical skin compounds that are recognized by ants of genus Atta, which may allow for coexistence between ants and frogs."

A research paper on the study was published here in the journal, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

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