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ISME J. 2015 Feb;9(2):447-60. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2014.141. Epub 2014 Aug 1.

Insights into the metabolism, lifestyle and putative evolutionary history of the novel archaeal phylum 'Diapherotrites'.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, USA.
DOE Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, CA, USA.
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, East Boothbay, ME, USA.


The archaeal phylum 'Diapherotrites' was recently proposed based on phylogenomic analysis of genomes recovered from an underground water seep in an abandoned gold mine (Homestake mine in Lead, SD, USA). Here we present a detailed analysis of the metabolic capabilities and genomic features of three single amplified genomes (SAGs) belonging to the 'Diapherotrites'. The most complete of the SAGs, Candidatus 'Iainarchaeum andersonii' (Cand. IA), had a small genome (∼1.24 Mb), short average gene length (822 bp), one ribosomal RNA operon, high coding density (∼90.4%), high percentage of overlapping genes (27.6%) and low incidence of gene duplication (2.16%). Cand. IA genome possesses limited catabolic capacities that, nevertheless, could theoretically support a free-living lifestyle by channeling a narrow range of substrates such as ribose, polyhydroxybutyrate and several amino acids to acetyl-coenzyme A. On the other hand, Cand. IA possesses relatively well-developed anabolic capabilities, although it remains auxotrophic for several amino acids and cofactors. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that the majority of Cand. IA anabolic genes were acquired from bacterial donors via horizontal gene transfer. We thus propose that members of the 'Diapherotrites' have evolved from an obligate symbiotic ancestor by acquiring anabolic genes from bacteria that enabled independent biosynthesis of biological molecules previously acquired from symbiotic hosts. 'Diapherotrites' 16S rRNA genes exhibit multiple mismatches with the majority of archaeal 16S rRNA primers, a fact that could be responsible for their observed rarity in amplicon-generated data sets. The limited substrate range, complex growth requirements and slow growth rate predicted could be responsible for its refraction to isolation.

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