On the formation of a protic ionic liquid in nature. Academic Article uri icon


  • The practical utility of ionic liquids (ILs) makes the absence (heretofore) of reported examples from nature quite puzzling, given the facility with which nature produces many other types of exotic but utilitarian substances. In that vein, we report here the identification and characterization of a naturally occurring protic IL. It can be formed during confrontations between the ants S.invicta and N.fulva. After being sprayed with alkaloid-based S.invicta venom, N.fulva detoxifies by grooming with its own venom, formic acid. The mixture is a viscous liquid manifestly different from either of the constituents. Further, we find that the change results as a consequence of formic acid protonation of the N centers of the S.invicta venom alkaloids. The resulting mixed-cation ammonium formate milieu has properties consistent with its classification as a protic IL.

published proceedings

  • Angew Chem Int Ed Engl

altmetric score

  • 80.73

author list (cited authors)

  • Chen, L. i., Mullen, G. E., Le Roch, M., Cassity, C. G., Gouault, N., Fadamiro, H. Y., ... Davis, J. H.

citation count

  • 21

complete list of authors

  • Chen, Li||Mullen, Genevieve E||Le Roch, Myriam||Cassity, Cody G||Gouault, Nicolas||Fadamiro, Henry Y||Barletta, Robert E||O'Brien, Richard A||Sykora, Richard E||Stenson, Alexandra C||West, Kevin N||Horne, Howard E||Hendrich, Jeffrey M||Xiang, Kang Rui||Davis, James H

publication date

  • October 2014