Microbiology

Metagenomes yield archaeal metabolisms

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Science  29 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6285, pp. 547-548
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6285.547-e

Archaea play crucial roles in many environments on Earth and have done so for billions of years. However, they are notoriously difficult to isolate and culture. Two studies show the power of metagenomics in reconstructing the metabolisms and life history of these abundant yet enigmatic microbes. He et al. demonstrate that members of the phylum Bathyarchaeota from subseafloor sediments can perform acetogenesis—a versatile lifestyle previously confined to the bacterial domain. Sousa et al. reveal that a member of the phylum Lokiarchaeota is a strict anaerobe and contains a complete Wood-Ljungdahl pathway, consistent with a hypothesis that the original host of mitochondria was an autotrophic hydrogen-dependent archaeon.

Nat. Microbiol. 1, 16034, 16035 (2016).

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