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ISME J. 2016 Jul;10(7):1696-705. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2015.233. Epub 2016 Jan 29.

Genomic reconstruction of a novel, deeply branched sediment archaeal phylum with pathways for acetogenesis and sulfur reduction.

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Department of Marine Science, University of Texas Austin, Marine Science Institute, Port Aransas, TX, USA.
Department of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
MARUM Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
Department of Aquatic Geomicrobiology, Institute of Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Dornburger Straße 159, Jena, Germany.


Marine and estuary sediments contain a variety of uncultured archaea whose metabolic and ecological roles are unknown. De novo assembly and binning of high-throughput metagenomic sequences from the sulfate-methane transition zone in estuary sediments resulted in the reconstruction of three partial to near-complete (2.4-3.9 Mb) genomes belonging to a previously unrecognized archaeal group. Phylogenetic analyses of ribosomal RNA genes and ribosomal proteins revealed that this group is distinct from any previously characterized archaea. For this group, found in the White Oak River estuary, and previously registered in sedimentary samples, we propose the name 'Thorarchaeota'. The Thorarchaeota appear to be capable of acetate production from the degradation of proteins. Interestingly, they also have elemental sulfur and thiosulfate reduction genes suggesting they have an important role in intermediate sulfur cycling. The reconstruction of these genomes from a deeply branched, widespread group expands our understanding of sediment biogeochemistry and the evolutionary history of Archaea.

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