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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2006 Sep;57(3):452-69.

Uncultured Archaea in a hydrothermal microbial assemblage: phylogenetic diversity and characterization of a genome fragment from a euryarchaeote.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Microbiologie des Environnements Extrêmes, UMR 6197, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IFREMER, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer, Plouzané, France.


The polychaete Alvinella pompejana lives in organic tubes on the walls of active hydrothermal chimneys along the East Pacific Rise. To examine the diversity of the archaeal community associated with the polychaete tubes, we constructed libraries by direct PCR amplification and cloning of 16S rRNA genes. Almost half of the sequences of the 16S rRNA gene libraries clustered with uncultured archaeal groups. In an effort to access genomic information from uncultured archaeal members we further constructed a fosmid library from the same DNA source. One of the clones, Alv-FOS5, was sequenced completely. Its sequence analysis revealed an incomplete rRNA operon and 32 predicted ORFs. Seventeen of these ORFs have been assigned putative functions, including transcription and translation, cellular processes and signalling, transport systems and metabolic pathways. Phylogenetic analyses of the 16S rRNA gene suggested that Alv-FOS5 formed a new lineage related to members of Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent Euryarchaeota group II. Phylogenetic analyses of predicted proteins revealed the existence of likely cases of horizontal gene transfer, both between Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota and between Archaea and Bacteria. This study is the first step in using genomics to reveal the physiology of an as yet uncultured group of archaea from deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

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