Distribution and metabolisms of Woesearchaeota

In 1977, Carl Woese and George Fox proposed Archaea as one of the highest level of the “three-domain system” for biological taxonomy. Benefiting from the next-generation sequencing technology, we are more acquainted with Archaea as a critical fraction of microbial biomass in the earth biosphere, from the early two phyla (Euryarchaeota and Crenarchaeota) to the latest 28 phyla now.

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Sep 25, 2018

Woesearchaeota (formerly named Deep-sea Hydrothermal Vent Euryarchaeota Group 6, DHVEG-6), as a recently discovered member of the DPANN superphylum, were named to recognize the pioneering contribution of Carl Woese to archaeal phylogeny. Moreover, comparative genome and metagenomic analysis has greatly promoted the exploration of roles of Archaea in the global ecological niches and has revealed their essential function in the biogeochemical cycles, such as carbon, nitrogen and sulfur cycles. Woesearchaeota account for a wide diversity of archaeal 16S rRNA gene sequences, but their ecology, evolution, and metabolism remain largely unknown.

In our new study, we assembled 133 global clone libraries/studies and 19 publicly available genomes to profile these patterns for Woesearchaeota. Our results provide an ecological and evolutionary framework for Woesearchaeota at a global scale and indicate their potential ecological roles, especially in methanogenesis. Our paper could be found in microbiomejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40168-018-0488-2. This work is the collaboration among my research group at Shenzhen University with research teams of Dr. Ji-Dong Gu from The University of Hong and Prof. Jill Benfield from UC-Berkeley. It was a very nice experience, and mangy thanks for their great efforts. We will have more excellent works collaborated with these outstanding scientists in the future. 

The research team of Prof. Meng Li at the Institute for Advanced Study of Shenzhen University is a young and energetic research group established since 2014. Excepted to Prof. Meng Li, the research team now has 2 research scientists, 8 postdocs, 1 research assistant, 4 graduate students and several undergraduate students The research topics of this young research group majorly focus on the metabolism and ecological functions of members of Archaea, Bathyarchaeota, ASGARD, DPANN (Woesearchaeota) and new methanogens. We are trying to make our greatest efforts to the exploration of the roles of Archaea in the biogeochemical cycles.  Details of our previous researches could be found with following information.
Genomic and enzymatic evidence for acetogenesis among multiple lineages of the archaeal phylum Bathyarchaeota widespread in marine sediments
Bathyarchaeota: globally distributed metabolic generalists in anoxic environments
Comparative genomic inference suggests mixotrophic lifestyle for Thorarchaeota

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Meng Li

Professor, Shenzhen University

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