AbstractOur knowledge of archaeal diversity and evolution has expanded rapidly in the past decade. However, hardly any genomes of the phylum Korarchaeota have been obtained due to the difficulty in accessing their natural habitats and – possibly – their limited abundance. As a result, many aspects of Korarchaeota biology, physiology and evolution remain enigmatic. Here, we expand this phylum with five high-quality metagenome-assembled genomes. This improved taxon sampling combined with sophisticated phylogenomic analyses robustly places Korarchaeota at the base of TACK and Asgard clades, revisiting the phylum’s long-assumed position. Furthermore, we observe a clear split between terrestrial and marine thermal clades. Gene tree-aware ancestral reconstructions suggest that the last Korarchaeota common ancestor was a thermophilic autotroph. In contrast, Korarchaeaceae, the lineage where environmental transitions occurred, shifted towards a heterotrophic lifestyle. Terrestrial Korarchaeota gained manycasand CARF genes indicating they may need to manage viral infections. Together, our study provides new insights into these early diverging Archaea and suggests that gradual gene gain and loss shaped their adaptation to different thermal environments.ImportanceKorarchaeota are an ancient group of archaea, but their biology, physiology and evolution have remained obscure. Analysis of five novel Korarchaeota MAGs, and publicly available reference data provides robust phylogenomic evidence that Korarchaeota are placed at the base of Asgard archaea and TACK, revisiting the phylum’s long-assumed position. Gene content reconstruction suggests a versatile thermophilic and autotrophic last Korarchaeota common ancestor. Environmental distribution surveying of public databases places all Korarchaeota in thermophilic environments and indicates that their habitat is limited to hydrothermal vents and hot springs. Our modeling indicates at least two transitions linked to habitat switching between these environments in the evolutionary history of Korarchaeota. Both are linked to a significant alteration of the inferred ancestral gene content, including a shift towards a heterotrophic and potential scavenging lifestyle. Furthermore, hot spring Korarchaeota acquired various genes participating in resistance to viruses, suggesting they may need to manage frequent viral threats.
AbstractAsgard archaea have recently been identified as the closest archaeal relatives of eukaryotes. Their ecology, and particularly their virome, remain enigmatic. We reassembled and closed the chromosome of Candidatus Odinarchaeum yellowstonii LCB_4, through long-range PCR, revealing CRISPR spacers targeting viral contigs. We found related viruses in the genomes of diverse prokaryotes from geothermal environments, including other Asgard archaea. These viruses open research avenues into the ecology and evolution of Asgard archaea.
Asgard archaea have recently been identified as the closest archaeal relatives of eukaryotes. Their ecology remains enigmatic, and their virome, completely unknown. Here, we describe the closed genome of Ca. Odinarchaeum yellowstonii LCB_4, and, from this, obtain novel CRISPR arrays with spacer targets to several viral contigs. We find related viruses in sequence data from thermophilic environments and in the genomes of diverse prokaryotes, including other Asgard archaea. These novel viruses open research avenues into the ecology and evolution of Asgard archaea.
AbstractGut-associated microbiota of ants include Rhizobiales bacteria with affiliation to the genus Bartonella. These bacteria may enable the ants to fix atmospheric nitrogen, but no genomes have been sequenced yet to test the hypothesis. Sequence reads from a member of the Rhizobiales were identified in the data collected in a genome project of the ant Harpegnathos saltator. We present an analysis of the closed 1.86 Mb genome of the ant-associated bacterium, for which we suggest the species name Candidatus Tokpelaia hoelldoblerii. A phylogenetic analysis reveals a relationship to Bartonella and Brucella, which infect mammals. Novel gene acquisitions include a gene for a putative extracellular protein of more than 6,000 amino acids secreted by the type I secretion system, which may be involved in attachment to the gut epithelium. No genes for nitrogen fixation could be identified, but genes for a multi-subunit urease protein complex are present in the genome. The urease genes are also present in Brucella, which has a fecal-oral transmission pathway, but not in Bartonella, which use blood-borne transmission pathways. We hypothesize that the gain and loss of the urease function is related to transmission strategies and lifestyle changes in the host-associated members of the Rhizobiales.