BackgroundArchaea were originally discovered in extreme environments, and thrive in many extreme habitats including soda lakes with high pH and salinity. Characteristic and diverse archaeal community played a significant role in biogeochemical cycles; however, the archaeal community and their functions are still less-studied in the intricate sediment of soda lakes. ResultsIn this article, the archaeal community of the deep sediment (40-50 cm depth) of five artificially-separated ponds with a salinity range from 7.0% to 33.0% in a soda saline lake was systematically surveyed using culture-independent metagenomics combined with the next-generation sequencing of the archaeal 16S rRNA amplicons. Nine archaeal phyla were detected, which accounted for 2.2% to 35.73% of microbial community in the five deep sediments. Besides the well-known class Halobacteria, one novel archaeal order (Candidatus Natranaeroarchaeales) of the class Thermoplasmata was even more abundant than Halobacteria in some deep sediment samples. Of 69 dereplicated archaeal metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), 30 MAGs belonged to Ca. Natranaeroarchaeales. Different genera of the Ca. Natranaeroarchaeales preferred to inhabit in the different salinities, and the divergent halophilic adaptation strategies (salt-out or salt-in) suggested the fast evolution adaptation within this lineage. Most high-quality MAGs had the genes of Wood-Ljungdahl pathway, organic acid fermentation and sulfur respiration, suggesting the putative functions in carbon fixation and sulfur reduction. Interestingly, heterodisulfide reductase and F420-non-reducing hydrogenase complex HdrABC-MvhADG were widely distributed in Ca. Natranaeroarchaeales and may play the core roles in energy metabolism from hydrogen. The regeneration of CoM-S-S-CoB was coupled to succinate or 2-oxoglutarate production in Ca. Natranaeroarchaeales instead of methanogenesis in the close related Methanomassiliicoccales. It suggested that methyl-coenzyme M reductase in Methanomassiliicoccales may be laterally transferred from other methanogens. ConclusionA novel archaeal order Ca. Natranaeroarchaeales of Thermoplasmata was found by culture-independent approaches. This order was the most abundant archaeal lineage in the deep sediment of soda lakes, with the characteristic environmental adaptation and biogeochemical potentials in carbon fixation and sulfur reduction. The difference in fermentation products coupled to energy metabolism between methanogens and Ca. Natranaeroarchaeales provided additional insights into the origination of methanogenesis in Thermoplasmata from the energy metabolism perspective.