South American leafcutter ants are known mostly for their mind-boggling strength, as evidenced by their ability to march through the rainforest while carrying leaf sections twice their size. But it's the tiny creatures' power to thwart microbes that interests drug researchers even more. It all has to do with how the ants prepare their food by transporting the leaves underground, where they decay and form a garden of fungus that supplies nutrients to their larvae and queen.
To protect their repast from unwanted microbes and parasites, the ants have developed an antibiotic-producing bacteria on their bodies. British researchers have discovered that the ants actually produce and use multiple antibiotics, in a way similar to doctors using multidrug therapy to treat infections in humans.
One of the chemicals produced by the ants is similar to an antifungal drug already used in modern medicine. But researchers also have hopes of discovering completely new substances that could be useful in fighting human disease [sources: JIC, Science Daily].