A microbe in the gut of a stick insect could help scientists to unravel the puzzle of antibiotic resistance.
The Giant Lime Green stick insect, which feeds mainly on eucalyptus leaves, is being studied at the John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich.
In the laboratory it has shown resistance to toxins and infections it could never have encountered before.
This indicates a general mechanism at work and understanding this could lead to new drugs, JIC scientists believe.
Scientists at JIC are confident studying natural processes will reveal new antibiotics.
The pressure is on to make discoveries because every year more drugs are made ineffective by microbe resistance.
Professor Tony Maxwell, head of biological chemistry, said: "We have discovered the microbe in the stick insect's gut is resistant to toxins and infections it could never have been exposed to.
"This indicates that there is a general mechanism at work.
"If we can unravel that then it opens the way to understanding antibiotic resistance and this will enable us to build a chemical strategy against it.
"It will also help us build into new antibiotics a mechanism to counter any resistance."