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Domain (Bacteria);

\ Phylum (Firmicutes); Class (Bacilli);

Order (Bacillales); 

Family (Paenibacillaceae); Genus (Paenibacillus)


NCBI: Taxonomy

Genus species Genus: bacillus

Database name Direct links Nucleotide 10

Protein 12,413

Structure 3

Genome 1

Gene 6,415

SRA Experiments 40

Protein Clusters 4,051

Bio Project 3

Bio Sample 2

Bio Systems 228

Assembly 1


Habitat Information

Soil isolate collected 9/5/2017 at 3pm CST, on a sunny day.

Soil Type
SsC—Speck stony clay loam, 1-5% slopes, well drained
Dry grassy area adjacent to an inhabited home, mostly shaded, not recently disturbed, beneath a disused plastic tumbling compost barrel.
GPS Location
30.18538 latitude, -97.9021722 longitude
Air Temperature
93 F
Solar Radiation
22.66 MJ/m2
0.00 inches
2 inches

Description and Significance

Colony Morphology

Colonies of likely Paenibacillus species on LB agar.

Isolate forms punctiform colonies, very transparent with a milky white color. The margin is entire, and the surface is glossy and convex, with no noticeable odor.

Antibiotic Potential

Shows antibiotic potential with significant zones of inhibition in agar inoculated for confluence of both E. coli and S. aureus.

Paenibacillus species are known to produce many strong antimicrobial lipopeptides including antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer and antiviral enzymes. [1]

Antibiotic/Disinfectant Susceptibility

Antibiotics: Highly sensitive to Cefoxitin, Ceftazidime, Ticarcillin/Clavulanic Acid, Vancomycin, Ampicilin/Sulbactam.

Disinfectants: Resistant to rosemary, 10% bleach and 100% bleach. Sensitive to orange essential oil. Minimally sensitive to lavender.

Medicinal Significance

Paenibacillus species are described as among ‘A Gold Mine of Antibiotic Candidates’. Paenibacillus produce a wide variety of lipopeptides that could be developed into antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer and antiviral drugs. There is limited research on these lipopeptides, but they are diverse, numerous, and potent. [1] Development of antibiotic resistance to lipopeptides is also known to be much slower. In addition to lipopeptides, Paenibacillus also produce two of the three types of bacteriocins. And some research suggests that their exopolysaccharides have potential as antioxidants, anti-tumour medication, and possibly even tooth decay preventors. [2]

Agricultural Significance

Many species produce antifungals and insecticides that protect plants from pathogens and insect herbivores. They can also stimulate the plant’s own resistance mechanisms. Several species produce enzymes that kill the larvae of beetles and lepidopterans. Additionally, they are known to promote crop growth via nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilization and iron acquisition. Research suggests that Paenibacillus could be employed as a less expensive, more environmentally friendly fertilizer than many of the manufactured chemical phosphorus fertilizers used today. [2]

Industrial Significance

Although currently not used in any industry, certain species of Paenibacillus produce enzymes that could be used in detergents, biofuel, paper, textiles, and food manufacturing. Their potential benefit as a more stable, more productive, less expensive source of enzymes for industrial applications remains unstudied.[2]

Pathogenic Significance

One species of Paenibacillus, P. larvae, is well studied because it causes American Foulbrood, a deadly disease that afflicts honeybees worldwide. American Foulbrood is the most destructive brood disease and is difficult to treat for multiple reasons, including antibiotic resistance. To prevent the spread of infection to neighboring bee colonies, bee keepers have to burn entire hives.[2]

Paenibacillus globratella causes a highly contagious, deadly disease in snails. In tropical regions snails are a common vector for Schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease of great public health concern in Africa. Thus, researchers hope P. globratella could be used as biocontrol agent for the spread of Schistosomiasis.[2]

Paenibacillus species are also opportunistic pathogens in humans, more commonly affecting immunocompromised individuals. They are associated (correlated), but not shown to be the direct cause of chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease, premature birth, Whipple’s disease, hydrocephalus, skin cancer, chronic interstitial nephropathy, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. All of these associations are thought to be opportunistic. [2]

Genome Structure


Cell Structure, Metabolism and Life Cycle

Positive motility results from soil sample, likely a Paenibacillus species.

Cellular Morphology

The isolate stained as a gram negative rod-shaped bacillus. It forms oval-shaped endospores slightly larger than its vegetative form. It is motile, aerobic, and catalase positive. It does not have a capsule.

Paenibacillus species can be gram positive, negative or variable. Additionally, Paenibacillus species with gram positive structure can stain as variable or negative. [4] They have peritrichous flagella and are unusual in that they can move on hard agar media. [3] They grow best at a pH of 7 but some are alkaliphilic. They prefer a temperature of 28-40 degrees Centigrade and NaCl concentrations lower than 10%. They can hydrolyze a variety of carbohydrates. [4]

Our soil isolate is
Positive for starch hydrolysis, produces amylase.
Positive for bile esculin, hydrolyzes esculin in the presence of bile.
Weak alpha for partial hemolytic activity in a blood agar test.
Positive for growth in a 6.5% salt tolerance test.
The following tests were negative
glucose fermentation, sucrose fermentation, lactose fermentation, mannitol fermentation, casease production, gelatinase production, DNAse production, lipase production, urease production, Voges-Proskauer (acetoin production), citrate utilization, sulfur reduction, indole production, mixed acid production (mythyl red test), nitrate reduction, phenylalanine deaminase production, and decarboxylase production.

Physiology and Pathogenesis

Paenibacillus bacteria is actually known for infecting insects like honeybees and parasites but occasionally is found in humans as opportunistic infections. Antibiotics such as lincomycin, oxytetracycline and tylosin have been effective antibiotics for honeybee infections. However, when bees are taking these antibiotics, then pollinate honey and that honey is consumed by humans, this may cause a reaction. Now the pathogenicity in humans is a little different. As previously mentioned, paenibacillus infections are opportunistic and unfortunately affect mainly those with compromised immunity. Paenibacillus infections also have been known to be antibiotic resistant in some cases. Some diseases associated with a paenibacillus infection are sickle cell infection, premature birth, chronic kidney disease, skin cancers, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Research is still on-going to see if paenibacillus causes these diseases and what the relationship is like between the bacteria and the disease. Researchers have found however that using intravenous drugs (IV) while having a paenibacillus infection can cause IV use can be an entry not only for the prescriptive drug but for other pathogens to enter the blood stream. Another interesting fact about paenibacillus is that it plays a part in spoiling dairy products along with bacillus and viridibacillus in both raw and pasturized milk. These types of bacteria are able to withstand high pressures, heats and biocides so that they survive pasteurization and continue to remain on equipment to manufacture dairy products.


[1] Cochrane, SA., Vederas, JC., “Lipopeptides from Bacillus and Paenibacillus spp.: A Gold Mind of Antibiotic Candidates.” “Medicinal Research Reviews” 2016. Volume 36. P. 4-31.

[2] Grady, E., MacDonald, J., Liu, L., Richman, A., Yuan, Z. “Current knowledge and perspectives of Paenibacillus: a review”. “Microbial Cell Factories”. 2016. Volume 15. P 203.

[3] Kobayashi, K., Kanesaki Y., Yoshikawa H., “Genetic Analysis of Collective Motility of Paenibacillus sp.” . “PLOS Genetics”. October 2016.

[4] Priest, F., “Paenibacillus”. “Bergey’s Manual of Systematics of Archaea and Bacteria”. September 2015.


Page authored by Sarah Haley and Marissa Parks, student of Prof. Kristine Hollingsworth at Austin Community College.