Baker BJ, Saw JH, Lind AE, Lazar CS, Hinrichs K, Teske AP, Ettema TJG
Nat Microbiol 1 (-) 16002 [2016-02-15; online 2016-02-15]
The subsurface biosphere is largely unexplored and contains a broad diversity of uncultured microbes(1). Despite being one of the few prokaryotic lineages that is cosmopolitan in both the terrestrial and marine subsurface(2-4), the physiological and ecological roles of SAGMEG (South-African Gold Mine Miscellaneous Euryarchaeal Group) Archaea are unknown. Here, we report the metabolic capabilities of this enigmatic group as inferred from genomic reconstructions. Four high-quality (63-90% complete) genomes were obtained from White Oak River estuary and Yellowstone National Park hot spring sediment metagenomes. Phylogenomic analyses place SAGMEG Archaea as a deeply rooting sister clade of the Thermococci, leading us to propose the name Hadesarchaea for this new Archaeal class. With an estimated genome size of around 1.5 Mbp, the genomes of Hadesarchaea are distinctly streamlined, yet metabolically versatile. They share several physiological mechanisms with strict anaerobic Euryarchaeota. Several metabolic characteristics make them successful in the subsurface, including genes involved in CO and H2 oxidation (or H2 production), with potential coupling to nitrite reduction to ammonia (DNRA). This first glimpse into the metabolic capabilities of these cosmopolitan Archaea suggests they are mediating key geochemical processes and are specialized for survival in the subsurface biosphere.