The ants and fungus have lived together so long they depend on each other. The gardening ants harvest leaves and other plant parts at a ferocious pace to mulch and nourish their fungus, carrying up to 110 pounds of plant material in a day, stripping all the leaves off some trees in less than 24 hours. The fungus no longer produces spores, instead providing bundles of nutrients designed specifically for the ants to eat.
Ants carry antibiotics on their bodies that help keep their fungus gardens healthy. Scientists are currently researching these to see if they might provide new drugs for people, given the development of diseases resistant to our current antibiotics. Someday we may owe our health to the remarkable intertwined lives of these ants and their fungus gardens.