Washington: The tiny ants may be derided by all, but they play a very important role in making the earth habitable by assisting in the gradual reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Ants are one of the most powerful biological agents of mineral decay yet observed, the findings showed.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is trapped by carbon and magnesium silicates and changed into carbonates. This reduces carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
"Over geological timescales, the dissolution of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) bearing silicates has led to the graduate drawdown of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) through the accumulation of limestone and dolomite," said Ronald Dorn from Arizona State University in the US.
Ants seeded up this process by up to 300 times over controls, the findings showed.
Ant nests as a whole enhance abiotic rates of Ca-Mg dissolution by two orders of magnitude (via biologically enhanced weathering), Dorn added.
Understanding how ants interact with minerals might help us trap carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
The study appeared in the journal Geology.