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Res Microbiol. 2008 Sep-Oct;159(7-8):516-21. doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2008.06.007. Epub 2008 Jul 2.

A putative new order of methanogenic Archaea inhabiting the human gut, as revealed by molecular analyses of the mcrA gene.

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Université Clermont1, UFR Pharmacie, Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine (CRNH), IFR Santé-Auvergne, ERT CIDAM, Clermont-Ferrand, F-63001, France.


The diversity of methanogenic Archaea from the gut of 6 humans was investigated by targeting mcrA, a molecular metabolic marker of methanogenesis. Three operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were recovered from about 400 clones analyzed, two of which were attributed to the expected Methanobacteriales Methanobrevibacter smithii (4 volunteers) and Methanosphaera stadtmanae (1 volunteer). The third OTU (1 volunteer) corresponded to a distant phylotype that does not cluster with any of the five methanogenic orders. This result, also supported by 16S archaeal sequences retrieved from the same volunteer, strongly suggests there may be a sixth order and hence potential underestimation of the role of methanogens in gut physiology.

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