The poisonous weapons of the approximately 100 species of ants living in Germany have so far been almost unexplored - scientists from Gießen are now doing their part to change this.

A team from Liebig University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology has succeeded in decoding the poisonous cocktail of two native knot ant species.

The biologists were able to detect so-called EGF toxins, which are known from the venom of Australian bulldog ants.

In humans, a sting from these species causes severe pain.

However, the EGF toxins of the knot ants differ from those of their subtropical relatives;

presumably they target other insects rather than larger enemies.

The knot ant venom mixture also contains many enzymes, including proteases and phospholipases.

According to the researchers, some of these could be interesting for the production of industrial goods.