Biology of a widespread uncultivated archaeon that contributes to carbon fixation in the subsurface

Alexander J. Probst, Thomas Weinmaier, Kasie Raymann, Alexandra Perras, Joanne B. Emerson, Thomas Rattei, Gerhard Wanner, Andreas Klingl, Ivan A. Berg, Marcos Yoshinaga, Bernhard Viehweger, Kai Uwe Hinrichs, Brian C. Thomas, Sandra Meck, Anna K. Auerbach, Matthias Heise, Arno Schintlmeister, Markus Schmid, Michael Wagner, Simonetta GribaldoJillian F. Banfield, Christine Moissl-Eichinger

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Subsurface microbial life contributes significantly to biogeochemical cycling, yet it remains largely uncharacterized, especially its archaeal members. This 'microbial dark matter' has been explored by recent studies that were, however, mostly based on DNA sequence information only. Here, we use diverse techniques including ultrastuctural analyses to link genomics to biology for the SM1 Euryarchaeon lineage, an uncultivated group of subsurface archaea. Phylogenomic analyses reveal this lineage to belong to a widespread group of archaea that we propose to classify as a new euryarchaeal order ('Candidatus Altiarchaeales'). The representative, double-membraned species 'Candidatus Altiarchaeum hamiconexum' has an autotrophic metabolism that uses a not-yet-reported Factor420-free reductive acetyl-CoA pathway, confirmed by stable carbon isotopic measurements of archaeal lipids. Our results indicate that this lineage has evolved specific metabolic and structural features like nano-grappling hooks empowering this widely distributed archaeon to predominate anaerobic groundwater, where it may represent an important carbon dioxide sink.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5497
Number of pages13
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes

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