The invasion of the invisible is on everyone’s mind. Could a bat’s immune system or another organism’s adaptation hold the key to protecting ourselves from viruses?

Disease approaches from all sides, and the source of the impending havoc is often invisible. The rise of the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 has reminded our species that threats from microscopic organisms are real and ever-changing.

But pathogens, like any other living thing, require certain conditions to survive and thrive. Affected organisms can target that dependency in their defense strategies. As humans look beyond vaccines and antibiotics for the next generation of pathogen-fighting techniques, the rest of the living world offers ingenious solutions for facing these threats.

In the collection of biological strategies below, explore some of the eye-opening ways nature protects from pathogens, building defensive structures, releasing chemicals that repel or destroy, or promoting the presence of other beneficial organisms that can in turn handle the defenses for them.