Origins of Antibiotic Resistance
This activity guides the analysis of a published scientific figure from a study on whether antibiotic resistance genes evolved before or after the introduction of modern-day antibiotics.
In this study, scientists collected bacteria from locations that had never been exposed to humans. They then tested these bacteria for resistance to a variety of antibiotics. The figure shows the percentages of Gram-positive bacteria (Panel A) and Gram-negative bacteria (Panel B) that were resistant to each antibiotic. The antibiotics are grouped by the protein or pathway that they target in bacterial cells: the 30S ribosome, 50S ribosome, folate pathway, DNA/RNA synthesis, cell wall synthesis, or cell membrane.
The “Educator Materials” document includes a captioned figure, background information, graph interpretation, and discussion questions. The “Student Handout” includes a captioned figure and background information.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure.
- Describe antibiotic resistance, and hypothesize when and why it may have evolved.
bar graph, Gram-negative bacteria, Gram-positive bacteria, health care, medicine, pathogen, strain
Bhullar, Kirandeep, Nicholas Waglechner, Andrew Pawlowski, Kalinka Koteva, Eric D. Banks, Michael D. Johnston, Hazel A. Barton, and Gerard D. Wright. “Antibiotic Resistance Is Prevalent in an Isolated Cave Microbiome.” PLoS ONE 7, 4 (2012): e34953. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0034953.
The resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. No rights are granted to use HHMI’s or BioInteractive’s names or logos independent from this Resource or in any derivative works.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS4-4; SEP2, SEP4, SEP5
AP Biology (2019)
EVO-1.H, EVO-2.B, EVO-3.A; SP1, SP4
IB Biology (2016)
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-2.H, SP4, SP5
Common Core (2010)
Math.S-ID.3, Math.S-IC.1; MP2, MP5
Vision and Change (2009)
CC1; DP2, DP3