Metabolic Origins

Dawn of methylotrophy

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Science  04 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6461, pp. 69-70
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6461.69-f

Methyl groups, including those derived from or ending up in methane, are managed through a dizzying array of metabolic pathways. Some of these originated early in life's history, and their evolution paralleled and contributed to Earth's chemistry. Adam et al. analyzed a set of bacterial and archaeal genomes, looking for patterns in the presence and divergence of enzymes in the tetrahydromethanopterin methyl branch of the Wood–Ljungdahl pathway, which is involved in carbon redox reactions. Expanding previous analyses narrowed the distance between bacterial and archaeal sequences, making horizontal transfer more plausible relative to an origin in the last universal common ancestor. An origin of this branch in Archaea is likely given wide distribution therein and enzyme phylogenies consistent with those of the organisms.

Nat. Microbiol. 10.1038/s41564-019-0534-2 (2019).

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