Accessing prehistoric antibacterial natural products

We apply new approaches to access the dimension of time, in addition to the space dimension, in natural product research to identify new bioactive compounds. For this purpose, we investigate prehistoric microbiomes (e.g. from dental calculus and skeletal remains) and microbiomes of traditionally living societies having little contact with pharmaceutically produced antibiotics. We pursue three strategies:

  1. Reconstitution of biosynthetic genes from prehistoric DNA in “modern” bacteria
  2. Identification of bacteria producing antibiotics in traditional microbiomes
  3. Investigation of the evolution of antibiotic resistance genes in order to learn more about the spread of (multi)resistant bacteria.


Sabrina Even
James Fellows Yates
Jasmin Frangenberg
Rosa Herbst
Yusuke Hioki
Anan Ibrahim
Martin Klapper
Juliane Kratz
Hannah Mendler
Raed Nachawati
Akari Shinoda
Raphaela Stahl
Pierre Stallforth
Harikumar Suma
Ina Wasmuth
Shuaibing Zhang


Klapper M*, Hübner A*, Ibrahim A*, Wasmuth I, Borry M, Haensch VG, Zhang S, Al-Jammal WK, Suma H, Fellows Yates JA, Frangenberg J, Velsko IM, Chowdhury S, Herbst R, Bratovanov EV, Dahse HM, Horch T, Hertweck C, González Morales MR, Straus LG, Vilotijevic I, Warinner C, Stallforth P (2023) Natural products from reconstructed bacterial genomes of the Middle and Upper paleolithic. Science 380(6645), 619-624.
Pflanze S, Mukherji R, Ibrahim A, Günther M, Götze S, Chowdhury S, Reimer L, Regestein L, Stallforth P (2023) Nonribosomal peptides protect Pseudomonas nunensis 4A2e from amoebal and nematodal predation. Chem Sci 14(41), 11573-11581.
Baunach M, Chowdhury S, Stallforth P, Dittmann E (2021) The landscape of recombination events that create nonribosomal peptide diversity. Mol Biol Evol 38(5), 2116-2130.
Götze S, Arp J, Lackner G, Zhang S, Kries H, Klapper M, García-Altares M, Willing K, Günther M, Stallforth P (2019) Structure elucidation of the syringafactin lipopeptides provides insight in the evolution of nonribosomal peptide synthetases. Chem Sci 10(48), 10979-10990.