Antibiotic resistance is ancient and widespread in environmental bacteria. These are therefore reservoirs of resistance elements and reflective of the natural history of antibiotics and resistance. In a previous study, we discovered that multi-drug resistance is common in bacteria isolated from Lechuguilla Cave, an underground ecosystem that has been isolated from the surface for over 4 Myr. Here we use whole-genome sequencing, functional genomics and biochemical assays to reveal the intrinsic resistome of Paenibacillus sp. LC231, a cave bacterial isolate that is resistant to most clinically used antibiotics. We systematically link resistance phenotype to genotype and in doing so, identify 18 chromosomal resistance elements, including five determinants without characterized homologues and three mechanisms not previously shown to be involved in antibiotic resistance. A resistome comparison across related surface Paenibacillus affirms the conservation of resistance over millions of years and establishes the longevity of these genes in this genus.
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