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ISME J. 2010 Mar;4(3):346-56. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2009.126. Epub 2009 Dec 3.

Diversity and abundance of Korarchaeota in terrestrial hot springs of Iceland and Kamchatka.

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Centre for Geobiology and Department of Biology, University of Bergen, All├ęgaten, Bergen, Norway.


Korarchaeota constitute a recently proposed and little characterized kingdom of Archaea that might have diverged before the lineages of Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota split. To assess the diversity, distribution and abundance of Korarchaeota, we analysed 19 terrestrial hot springs in Hveragerdi and Krysuvik, Iceland, and in Kamchatka, Russia. The springs were 70-97 degrees C with pH 2.5-6.5. Out of 19 springs, 12 tested positive for Korarchaeota with specific primers. A Korarchaeota 16S rDNA library was made from each of these. From the 301 clones sequenced, 87 unique sequences were obtained from Iceland and 33 from Kamchatka. The similarity between Kamchatkan and Icelandic 16S rDNA sequences and that of Candidatus Korarchaeum cryptofilum was </=93.5%. Phylogenetic analyses revealed a clear separation between sequences retrieved from terrestrial and marine habitats. Within the terrestrial sequences, four clusters could be recognized showing a geographic distribution with surprisingly low diversity. Furthermore, the abundance of Korarchaeota 16S rDNA in the 12 environmental samples was analysed using quantitative PCR (qPCR), showing that Korarchaeota represent only a minor fraction of the microbial community in hot springs; however, in some cases they constitute up to 7% of all Archaea. Taxonomic profiling of an Icelandic Korarchaeota-positive habitat revealed an Aquificales-dominated community. In fact, Aquificales were dominating or present in high numbers in all 12 positive sites. Chemical analyses of three Korarchaeota-positive hot springs showed their occurrence in variable water chemistry. Our data provide new information on Korarchaeota habitats and shed light on their abundance, diversity, distribution and coexisting organisms.

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