Genomic inference of the metabolism of cosmopolitan subsurface Archaea, Hadesarchaea

Brett J. Baker*, Jimmy H. Saw, Anders E. Lind, Cassandre Sara Lazar, Kai Uwe Hinrichs, Andreas P. Teske, Thijs J.G. Ettema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


The subsurface biosphere is largely unexplored and contains a broad diversity of uncultured microbes1. Despite being one of the few prokaryotic lineages that is cosmopolitan in both the terrestrial and marine subsurface2-4, 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16002
JournalNature Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


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