Newly Discovered Bacteria Isolated in a Cave for 4 Million Years Resistant to 18 Different Antibiotics


The newly discovered bacteria Paenibacillus has been found to be resistant to 18 types of antibiotics, including an antibiotic considered to be a “last resort” antibiotic, when most commonly used antibiotics have failed.

Scientists found that the bacteria Paenibacillus that was isolated for 4 million years in a cave, had five different ways to resist the effects of antibiotics.


The use of antibiotics had become a largely concerning issue globally, according to the World Health Organization. The overuse of antibiotics is said to kill off non-resistant bacteria, leaving only the resistant ones to take over bacterial populations, making them more difficult to kill.

However, it was recently discovered that even a bacteria strain that has been isolated for 4 million years had been developing its own resistance, despite its lack of human contact.

According to researchers, this may suggest that there is an evolutionary pressure to keep antibiotic resistance genes that has existed for millions of years before modern medicine.

This does not negate the effect of modern medicine on the development of antibiotic resistance among bacteria, but has showed the practical use of this resistance preceded modern medicine.

Researchers say that considering that antibiotics are mostly based on compounds found naturally that kill or stunt the growth of bacteria, it may not be entirely surprising that bacteria had developed resistance to them even before modern medicine.

Recently, resistant bacteria were also found in the stomach of ancient South American mummies.

“The diversity of antibiotic resistance and it’s its prevalence in microbes across the globe should be humbling to everyone who uses these lifesaving drugs,” said McMaster University’s Gerry Wright, who co-authored the paper in the journal Nature Communications. “It reflects the fact that we must understand that antibiotic use and resistance go hand in hand.”