Genomic inference of the metabolism and evolution of the archaeal phylum Aigarchaeota

Zheng Shuang Hua, Yan Ni Qu, Qiyun Zhu, En Min Zhou, Yan Ling Qi, Yi Rui Yin, Yang Zhi Rao, Ye Tian, Yu Xian Li, Lan Liu, Cindy J. Castelle, Brian P. Hedlund, Wen Sheng Shu, Rob Knight, Wen Jun Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Microbes of the phylum Aigarchaeota are widely distributed in geothermal environments, but their physiological and ecological roles are poorly understood. Here we analyze six Aigarchaeota metagenomic bins from two circumneutral hot springs in Tengchong, China, to reveal that they are either strict or facultative anaerobes, and most are chemolithotrophs that can perform sulfide oxidation. Applying comparative genomics to the Thaumarchaeota and Aigarchaeota, we find that they both originated from thermal habitats, sharing 1154 genes with their common ancestor. Horizontal gene transfer played a crucial role in shaping genetic diversity of Aigarchaeota and led to functional partitioning and ecological divergence among sympatric microbes, as several key functional innovations were endowed by Bacteria, including dissimilatory sulfite reduction and possibly carbon monoxide oxidation. Our study expands our knowledge of the possible ecological roles of the Aigarchaeota and clarifies their evolutionary relationship to their sister lineage Thaumarchaeota.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2832
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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