Abundant microbes hiding in plain sight

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Science  21 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6250, pp. 839-840
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6250.839-c

Natural microbial communities are frustratingly complex—even with the advent of powerful metagenomic tools. Overlooked abundant organisms often result in an incomplete view of the metabolic processes that affect major geochemical cycles. Hug et al. developed a subsampling metagenomic assembly technique which, when combined with metaproteomics, reveals a preponderance of highly abundant, novel microbial lineages in subsurface sediments at an old uranium mill tailings site. These organisms cycle carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur through unanticipated pathways. For example, despite low ammonium concentrations in the aquifer, the most abundant community member in the sediment is an ammonium-oxidizing archaeon that partially utilizes ammonium produced by nitrate-reducing bacteria.

Environ. Microbiol. 17, 10.1111/1462-2920.12930 (2015).

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