A combination of small molecule chemistry, biosynthetic analysis, and genome mining has revealed the unexpected conservation of polycyclic tetramate macrolactam biosynthetic loci in diverse bacteria. Initially our chemical analysis of a Streptomyces strain associated with the southern pine beetle led to the discovery of frontalamides A and B, two previously undescribed members of this antibiotic family. Genome analyses and genetic manipulation of the producing organism led to the identification of the frontalamide biosynthetic gene cluster and several biosynthetic intermediates. The biosynthetic locus for the frontalamides' mixed polyketide/amino acid structure encodes a hybrid polyketide synthase nonribosomal peptide synthetase (PKS-NRPS), which resembles iterative enzymes known in fungi. No such mixed iterative PKS-NRPS enzymes have been characterized in bacteria. Genome-mining efforts revealed strikingly conserved frontalamide-like biosynthetic clusters in the genomes of phylogenetically diverse bacteria ranging from proteobacteria to actinomycetes. Screens for environmental actinomycete isolates carrying frontalamide-like biosynthetic loci led to the isolation of a number of positive strains, the majority of which produced candidate frontalamide-like compounds under suitable growth conditions. These results establish the prevalence of frontalamide-like gene clusters in diverse bacterial types, with medicinally important Streptomyces species being particularly enriched.