Archaea The latest articles from Hindawi Publishing Corporation © 2015 , Hindawi Publishing Corporation . All rights reserved. From Structure-Function Analyses to Protein Engineering for Practical Applications of DNA Ligase Mon, 05 Oct 2015 07:20:42 +0000 DNA ligases are indispensable in all living cells and ubiquitous in all organs. DNA ligases are broadly utilized in molecular biology research fields, such as genetic engineering and DNA sequencing technologies. Here we review the utilization of DNA ligases in a variety of in vitro gene manipulations, developed over the past several decades. During this period, fewer protein engineering attempts for DNA ligases have been made, as compared to those for DNA polymerases. We summarize the recent progress in the elucidation of the DNA ligation mechanisms obtained from the tertiary structures solved thus far, in each step of the ligation reaction scheme. We also present some examples of engineered DNA ligases, developed from the viewpoint of their three-dimensional structures. Maiko Tanabe, Yoshizumi Ishino, and Hirokazu Nishida Copyright © 2015 Maiko Tanabe et al. All rights reserved. Untapped Resources: Biotechnological Potential of Peptides and Secondary Metabolites in Archaea Sun, 04 Oct 2015 09:22:45 +0000 Archaea are an understudied domain of life often found in “extreme” environments in terms of temperature, salinity, and a range of other factors. Archaeal proteins, such as a wide range of enzymes, have adapted to function under these extreme conditions, providing biotechnology with interesting activities to exploit. In addition to producing structural and enzymatic proteins, archaea also produce a range of small peptide molecules (such as archaeocins) and other novel secondary metabolites such as those putatively involved in cell communication (acyl homoserine lactones), which can be exploited for biotechnological purposes. Due to the wide array of metabolites produced there is a great deal of biotechnological potential from antimicrobials such as diketopiperazines and archaeocins, as well as roles in the cosmetics and food industry. In this review we will discuss the diversity of small molecules, both peptide and nonpeptide, produced by archaea and their potential biotechnological applications. James C. Charlesworth and Brendan P. Burns Copyright © 2015 James C. Charlesworth and Brendan P. Burns. All rights reserved. Archaeal Nucleic Acid Ligases and Their Potential in Biotechnology Thu, 01 Oct 2015 08:29:06 +0000 With their ability to catalyse the formation of phosphodiester linkages, DNA ligases and RNA ligases are essential tools for many protocols in molecular biology and biotechnology. Currently, the nucleic acid ligases from bacteriophage T4 are used extensively in these protocols. In this review, we argue that the nucleic acid ligases from Archaea represent a largely untapped pool of enzymes with diverse and potentially favourable properties for new and emerging biotechnological applications. We summarise the current state of knowledge on archaeal DNA and RNA ligases, which makes apparent the relative scarcity of information on in vitro activities that are of most relevance to biotechnologists (such as the ability to join blunt- or cohesive-ended, double-stranded DNA fragments). We highlight the existing biotechnological applications of archaeal DNA ligases and RNA ligases. Finally, we draw attention to recent experiments in which protein engineering was used to modify the activities of the DNA ligase from Pyrococcus furiosus and the RNA ligase from Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus, thus demonstrating the potential for further work in this area. Cecilia R. Chambers and Wayne M. Patrick Copyright © 2015 Cecilia R. Chambers and Wayne M. Patrick. All rights reserved. Archaeal Enzymes and Applications in Industrial Biocatalysts Thu, 01 Oct 2015 06:26:36 +0000 Archaeal enzymes are playing an important role in industrial biotechnology. Many representatives of organisms living in “extreme” conditions, the so-called Extremophiles, belong to the archaeal kingdom of life. This paper will review studies carried by the Exeter group and others regarding archaeal enzymes that have important applications in commercial biocatalysis. Some of these biocatalysts are already being used in large scale industrial processes for the production of optically pure drug intermediates and amino acids and their analogues. Other enzymes have been characterised at laboratory scale regarding their substrate specificity and properties for potential industrial application. The increasing availability of DNA sequences from new archaeal species and metagenomes will provide a continuing resource to identify new enzymes of commercial interest using both bioinformatics and screening approaches. Jennifer A. Littlechild Copyright © 2015 Jennifer A. Littlechild. All rights reserved. Biochemical Characterisation of Phage Pseudomurein Endoisopeptidases PeiW and PeiP Using Synthetic Peptides Mon, 21 Sep 2015 06:41:41 +0000 Pseudomurein endoisopeptidases cause lysis of the cell walls of methanogens by cleaving the isopeptide bond Ala-ε-Lys in the peptide chain of pseudomurein. PeiW and PeiP are two thermostable pseudomurein endoisopeptidases encoded by phage ΨM100 of Methanothermobacter wolfei and phages ΨM1 and ΨM2 of Methanothermobacter marburgensis, respectively. A continuous assay using synthetic peptide substrates was developed and used in the biochemical characterisation of recombinant PeiW and PeiP. The advantages of these synthetic peptide substrates over natural substrates are sensitivity, high purity, and characterisation and the fact that they are more easily obtained than natural substrates. In the presence of a reducing agent, purified PeiW and PeiP each showed similar activity under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Both enzymes required a divalent metal for activity and showed greater thermostability in the presence of Ca2+. PeiW and PeiP involve a cysteine residue in catalysis and have a monomeric native conformation. The kinetic parameters, and , were determined, and the ε-isopeptide bond between alanine and lysine was confirmed as the bond lysed by these enzymes in pseudomurein. The new assay may have wider applications for the general study of peptidases and the identification of specific methanogens susceptible to lysis by specific pseudomurein endoisopeptidases. Linley R. Schofield, Amy K. Beattie, Catherine M. Tootill, Debjit Dey, and Ron S. Ronimus Copyright © 2015 Linley R. Schofield et al. All rights reserved. Ecology and Distribution of Thaumarchaea in the Deep Hypolimnion of Lake Maggiore Tue, 25 Aug 2015 11:19:08 +0000 Ammonia-oxidizing Archaea (AOA) play an important role in the oxidation of ammonia in terrestrial, marine, and geothermal habitats, as confirmed by a number of studies specifically focused on those environments. Much less is known about the ecological role of AOA in freshwaters. In order to reach a high resolution at the Thaumarchaea community level, the probe MGI-535 was specifically designed for this study and applied to fluorescence in situ hybridization and catalyzed reporter deposition (CARD-FISH) analysis. We then applied it to a fine analysis of diversity and relative abundance of AOA in the deepest layers of the oligotrophic Lake Maggiore, confirming previous published results of AOA presence, but showing differences in abundance and distribution within the water column without significant seasonal trends with respect to Bacteria. Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis of AOA clone libraries from deep lake water and from a lake tributary, River Maggia, suggested the riverine origin of AOA of the deep hypolimnion of the lake. Manuela Coci, Nina Odermatt, Michaela M. Salcher, Jakob Pernthaler, and Gianluca Corno Copyright © 2015 Manuela Coci et al. All rights reserved. Assessment of the Carbon Monoxide Metabolism of the Hyperthermophilic Sulfate-Reducing Archaeon Archaeoglobus fulgidus VC-16 by Comparative Transcriptome Analyses Thu, 06 Aug 2015 16:23:54 +0000 The hyperthermophilic, sulfate-reducing archaeon, Archaeoglobus fulgidus, utilizes CO as an energy source and it is resistant to the toxic effects of high CO concentrations. Herein, transcription profiles were obtained from A. fulgidus during growth with CO and sulfate or thiosulfate, or without an electron acceptor. This provided a basis for a model of the CO metabolism of A. fulgidus. The model suggests proton translocation by “Mitchell-type” loops facilitated by Fqo catalyzing a :menaquinone oxidoreductase reaction, as the major mode of energy conservation, rather than formate or H2 cycling during respiratory growth. The bifunctional CODH (cdhAB-2) is predicted to play an ubiquitous role in the metabolism of CO, and a novel nitrate reductase-associated respiratory complex was induced specifically in the presence of sulfate. A potential role of this complex in relation to and APS reduction is discussed. Multiple membrane-bound heterodisulfide reductase (DsrMK) could promote both energy-conserving and non-energy-conserving menaquinol oxidation. Finally, the FqoF subunit may catalyze a :F420 oxidoreductase reaction. In the absence of electron acceptor, downregulation of F420H2 dependent steps of the acetyl-CoA pathway is linked to transient formate generation. Overall, carboxidotrophic growth seems as an intrinsic capacity of A. fulgidus with little need for novel resistance or respiratory complexes. William P. Hocking, Irene Roalkvam, Carina Magnussen, Runar Stokke, and Ida H. Steen Copyright © 2015 William P. Hocking et al. All rights reserved. Diversity and Distribution of Archaea in the Mangrove Sediment of Sundarbans Thu, 06 Aug 2015 06:57:28 +0000 Mangroves are among the most diverse and productive coastal ecosystems in the tropical and subtropical regions. Environmental conditions particular to this biome make mangroves hotspots for microbial diversity, and the resident microbial communities play essential roles in maintenance of the ecosystem. Recently, there has been increasing interest to understand the composition and contribution of microorganisms in mangroves. In the present study, we have analyzed the diversity and distribution of archaea in the tropical mangrove sediments of Sundarbans using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The extraction of DNA from sediment samples and the direct application of 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing resulted in approximately 142 Mb of data from three distinct mangrove areas (Godkhali, Bonnie camp, and Dhulibhashani). The taxonomic analysis revealed the dominance of phyla Euryarchaeota and Thaumarchaeota (Marine Group I) within our dataset. The distribution of different archaeal taxa and respective statistical analysis (SIMPER, NMDS) revealed a clear community shift along the sampling stations. The sampling stations (Godkhali and Bonnie camp) with history of higher hydrocarbon/oil pollution showed different archaeal community pattern (dominated by haloarchaea) compared to station (Dhulibhashani) with nearly pristine environment (dominated by methanogens). It is indicated that sediment archaeal community patterns were influenced by environmental conditions. Anish Bhattacharyya, Niladri Shekhar Majumder, Pijush Basak, Shayantan Mukherji, Debojyoti Roy, Sudip Nag, Anwesha Haldar, Dhrubajyoti Chattopadhyay, Suparna Mitra, Maitree Bhattacharyya, and Abhrajyoti Ghosh Copyright © 2015 Anish Bhattacharyya et al. All rights reserved. Understanding DNA Repair in Hyperthermophilic Archaea: Persistent Gaps and Other Reasons to Focus on the Fork Thu, 04 Jun 2015 09:27:59 +0000 Although hyperthermophilic archaea arguably have a great need for efficient DNA repair, they lack members of several DNA repair protein families broadly conserved among bacteria and eukaryotes. Conversely, the putative DNA repair genes that do occur in these archaea often do not generate the expected phenotype when deleted. The prospect that hyperthermophilic archaea have some unique strategies for coping with DNA damage and replication errors has intellectual and technological appeal, but resolving this question will require alternative coping mechanisms to be proposed and tested experimentally. This review evaluates a combination of four enigmatic properties that distinguishes the hyperthermophilic archaea from all other organisms: DNA polymerase stalling at dU, apparent lack of conventional NER, lack of MutSL homologs, and apparent essentiality of homologous recombination proteins. Hypothetical damage-coping strategies that could explain this set of properties may provide new starting points for efforts to define how archaea differ from conventional models of DNA repair and replication fidelity. Dennis W. Grogan Copyright © 2015 Dennis W. Grogan. All rights reserved. Isolation and Molecular Identification of Auxotrophic Mutants to Develop a Genetic Manipulation System for the Haloarchaeon Natrinema sp. J7-2 Thu, 21 May 2015 09:49:30 +0000 Our understanding of the genus Natrinema is presently limited due to the lack of available genetic tools. Auxotrophic markers have been widely used to construct genetic systems in bacteria and eukaryotes and in some archaeal species. Here, we isolated four auxotrophic mutants of Natrinema sp. J7-2, via 1-methyl-3-nitro-1-nitroso-guanidin mutagenesis, and designated them as J7-2-1, J7-2-22, J7-2-26, and J7-2-52, respectively. The mutant phenotypes were determined to be auxotrophic for leucine (J7-2-1), arginine (J7-2-22 and J7-2-52), and lysine (J7-2-26). The complete genome and the biosynthetic pathways of amino acids in J7-2 identified that the auxotrophic phenotype of three mutants was due to gene mutations in leuB (J7-2-1), dapD (J7-2-26), and argC (J7-2-52). These auxotrophic phenotypes were employed as selectable makers to establish a transformation method. The transformation efficiencies were determined to be approximately 103 transformants per g DNA. And strains J7-2-1 and J7-2-26 were transformed into prototrophic strains with the wild type genomic DNA, amplified fragments of the corresponding genes, or the integrative plasmids carrying the corresponding genes. Additionally, exogenous genes, bgaH or amyH gene, were expressed successfully in J7-2-1. Thus, we have developed a genetic manipulation system for the Natrinema genus based on the isolated auxotrophic mutants of Natrinema sp. J7-2. Jie Lv, Shuai Wang, Yuchen Wang, Yuping Huang, and Xiangdong Chen Copyright © 2015 Jie Lv et al. All rights reserved. Archaeal Communities in a Heterogeneous Hypersaline-Alkaline Soil Wed, 13 May 2015 06:44:39 +0000 In this study the archaeal communities in extreme saline-alkaline soils of the former lake Texcoco, Mexico, with electrolytic conductivities (EC) ranging from 0.7 to 157.2 dS/m and pH from 8.5 to 10.5 were explored. Archaeal communities in the 0.7 dS/m pH 8.5 soil had the lowest alpha diversity values and were dominated by a limited number of phylotypes belonging to the mesophilic Candidatus Nitrososphaera. Diversity and species richness were higher in the soils with EC between 9.0 and 157.2 dS/m. The majority of OTUs detected in the hypersaline soil were members of the Halobacteriaceae family. Novel phylogenetic branches in the Halobacteriales class were detected in the soil, and more abundantly in soil with the higher pH (10.5), indicating that unknown and uncharacterized Archaea can be found in this soil. Thirteen different genera of the Halobacteriaceae family were identified and were distributed differently between the soils. Halobiforma, Halostagnicola, Haloterrigena, and Natronomonas were found in all soil samples. Methanogenic archaea were found only in soil with pH between 10.0 and 10.3. Retrieved methanogenic archaea belonged to the Methanosarcinales and Methanomicrobiales orders. The comparison of the archaeal community structures considering phylogenetic information (UniFrac distances) clearly clustered the communities by pH. Yendi E. Navarro-Noya, César Valenzuela-Encinas, Alonso Sandoval-Yuriar, Norma G. Jiménez-Bueno, Rodolfo Marsch, and Luc Dendooven Copyright © 2015 Yendi E. Navarro-Noya et al. All rights reserved. Corrigendum to “Unique Characteristics of the Pyrrolysine System in the 7th Order of Methanogens: Implications for the Evolution of a Genetic Code Expansion Cassette” Mon, 02 Feb 2015 13:41:00 +0000 Guillaume Borrel, Nadia Gaci, Pierre Peyret, Paul W. O’Toole, Simonetta Gribaldo, and Jean-François Brugère Copyright © 2015 Guillaume Borrel et al. All rights reserved. De Novo Sequences of Haloquadratum walsbyi from Lake Tyrrell, Australia, Reveal a Variable Genomic Landscape Sun, 01 Feb 2015 08:05:46 +0000 Hypersaline systems near salt saturation levels represent an extreme environment, in which organisms grow and survive near the limits of life. One of the abundant members of the microbial communities in hypersaline systems is the square archaeon, Haloquadratum walsbyi. Utilizing a short-read metagenome from Lake Tyrrell, a hypersaline ecosystem in Victoria, Australia, we performed a comparative genomic analysis of H. walsbyi to better understand the extent of variation between strains/subspecies. Results revealed that previously isolated strains/subspecies do not fully describe the complete repertoire of the genomic landscape present in H. walsbyi. Rearrangements, insertions, and deletions were observed for the Lake Tyrrell derived Haloquadratum genomes and were supported by environmental de novo sequences, including shifts in the dominant genomic landscape of the two most abundant strains. Analysis pertaining to halomucins indicated that homologs for this large protein are not a feature common for all species of Haloquadratum. Further, we analyzed ATP-binding cassette transporters (ABC-type transporters) for evidence of niche partitioning between different strains/subspecies. We were able to identify unique and variable transporter subunits from all five genomes analyzed and the de novo environmental sequences, suggesting that differences in nutrient and carbon source acquisition may play a role in maintaining distinct strains/subspecies. Benjamin J. Tully, Joanne B. Emerson, Karen Andrade, Jochen J. Brocks, Eric E. Allen, Jillian F. Banfield, and Karla B. Heidelberg Copyright © 2015 Benjamin J. Tully et al. All rights reserved. Adaptation, Ecology, and Evolution of the Halophilic Stromatolite Archaeon Halococcus hamelinensis Inferred through Genome Analyses Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:31:23 +0000 Halococcus hamelinensis was the first archaeon isolated from stromatolites. These geomicrobial ecosystems are thought to be some of the earliest known on Earth, yet, despite their evolutionary significance, the role of Archaea in these systems is still not well understood. Detailed here is the genome sequencing and analysis of an archaeon isolated from stromatolites. The genome of H. hamelinensis consisted of 3,133,046 base pairs with an average G+C content of 60.08% and contained 3,150 predicted coding sequences or ORFs, 2,196 (68.67%) of which were protein-coding genes with functional assignments and 954 (29.83%) of which were of unknown function. Codon usage of the H. hamelinensis genome was consistent with a highly acidic proteome, a major adaptive mechanism towards high salinity. Amino acid transport and metabolism, inorganic ion transport and metabolism, energy production and conversion, ribosomal structure, and unknown function COG genes were overrepresented. The genome of H. hamelinensis also revealed characteristics reflecting its survival in its extreme environment, including putative genes/pathways involved in osmoprotection, oxidative stress response, and UV damage repair. Finally, genome analyses indicated the presence of putative transposases as well as positive matches of genes of H. hamelinensis against various genomes of Bacteria, Archaea, and viruses, suggesting the potential for horizontal gene transfer. Reema K. Gudhka, Brett A. Neilan, and Brendan P. Burns Copyright © 2015 Reema K. Gudhka et al. All rights reserved. Recombinant Cyclodextrinase from Thermococcus kodakarensis KOD1: Expression, Purification, and Enzymatic Characterization Mon, 26 Jan 2015 07:54:02 +0000 A gene encoding a cyclodextrinase from Thermococcus kodakarensis KOD1 (CDase-Tk) was identified and characterized. The gene encodes a protein of 656 amino acid residues with a molecular mass of 76.4 kDa harboring four conserved regions found in all members of the α-amylase family. A recombinant form of the enzyme was purified by ion-exchange chromatography, and its catalytic properties were examined. The enzyme was active in a broad range of pH conditions (pHs 4.0–10.0), with an optimal pH of 7.5 and a temperature optimum of 65°C. The purified enzyme preferred to hydrolyze β-cyclodextrin (CD) but not α- or γ-CD, soluble starch, or pullulan. The final product from β-CD was glucose. The and values were 3.13 ± 0.47 U mg−1 and 2.94 ± 0.16 mg mL−1 for β-CD. The unique characteristics of CDase-Tk with a low catalytic temperature and substrate specificity are discussed, and the starch utilization pathway in a broad range of temperatures is also proposed. Ying Sun, Xiaomin Lv, Zhengqun Li, Jiaqiang Wang, Baolei Jia, and Jinliang Liu Copyright © 2015 Ying Sun et al. All rights reserved. Diversity and Distribution of Archaea Community along a Stratigraphic Permafrost Profile from Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:46:21 +0000 Accompanying the thawing permafrost expected to result from the climate change, microbial decomposition of the massive amounts of frozen organic carbon stored in permafrost is a potential emission source of greenhouse gases, possibly leading to positive feedbacks to the greenhouse effect. In this study, the community composition of archaea in stratigraphic soils from an alpine permafrost of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau was investigated. Phylogenic analysis of 16S rRNA sequences revealed that the community was predominantly constituted by Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota. The active layer contained a proportion of Crenarchaeota at 51.2%, with the proportion of Euryarchaeota at 48.8%, whereas the permafrost contained 41.2% Crenarchaeota and 58.8% Euryarchaeota, based on 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. OTU1 and OTU11, affiliated to Group 1.3b/MCG-A within Crenarchaeota and the unclassified group within Euryarchaeota, respectively, were widely distributed in all sediment layers. However, OTU5 affiliated to Group 1.3b/MCG-A was primarily distributed in the active layers. Sequence analysis of the DGGE bands from the 16S rRNAs of methanogenic archaea showed that the majority of methanogens belonged to Methanosarcinales and Methanomicrobiales affiliated to Euryarchaeota and the uncultured ZC-I cluster affiliated to Methanosarcinales distributed in all the depths along the permafrost profile, which indicated a dominant group of methanogens occurring in the cold ecosystems. Shiping Wei, Hongpeng Cui, Hao He, Fei Hu, Xin Su, and Youhai Zhu Copyright © 2014 Shiping Wei et al. All rights reserved. Children Living near a Sanitary Landfill Have Increased Breath Methane and Methanobrevibacter smithii in Their Intestinal Microbiota Mon, 13 Oct 2014 07:43:58 +0000 This study evaluated the breath CH4 excretion and concentration of M. smithii in intestinal microbiota of schoolchildren from 2 slums. One hundred and eleven children from a slum near a sanitary landfill, 35 children of a slum located away from the sanitary landfill, and 32 children from a high socioeconomic level school were included in the study. Real-time PCR was performed to quantify the M. smithii nifH gene and it was present in the microbiota of all the participating children, with higher concentrations in those who lived in the slum near the landfill ( CFU/g of feces), comparing with the children from the slum away from the landfill ( CFU/g of feces) and those from the high socioeconomic level group ( CFU/g of feces). The prevalence of children who present breath methane was 53% in the slum near the landfill, 31% in the slum further away from the landfill and, 22% in the high socioeconomic level group. To live near a landfill is associated with higher concentrations of M. smithii in intestinal microbiota, comparing with those who live away from the landfill, regardless of their socioeconomics conditions. Humberto Bezerra de Araujo Filho, Mirian Silva Carmo-Rodrigues, Carolina Santos Mello, Lígia Cristina Fonseca Lahoz Melli, Soraia Tahan, Antonio Carlos Campos Pignatari, and Mauro Batista de Morais Copyright © 2014 Humberto Bezerra de Araujo Filho et al. All rights reserved. A Phylogenomic Census of Molecular Functions Identifies Modern Thermophilic Archaea as the Most Ancient Form of Cellular Life Sun, 31 Aug 2014 06:21:58 +0000 The origins of diversified life remain mysterious despite considerable efforts devoted to untangling the roots of the universal tree of life. Here we reconstructed phylogenies that described the evolution of molecular functions and the evolution of species directly from a genomic census of gene ontology (GO) definitions. We sampled 249 free-living genomes spanning organisms in the three superkingdoms of life, Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya, and used the abundance of GO terms as molecular characters to produce rooted phylogenetic trees. Results revealed an early thermophilic origin of Archaea that was followed by genome reduction events in microbial superkingdoms. Eukaryal genomes displayed extraordinary functional diversity and were enriched with hundreds of novel molecular activities not detected in the akaryotic microbial cells. Remarkably, the majority of these novel functions appeared quite late in evolution, synchronized with the diversification of the eukaryal superkingdom. The distribution of GO terms in superkingdoms confirms that Archaea appears to be the simplest and most ancient form of cellular life, while Eukarya is the most diverse and recent. Arshan Nasir, Kyung Mo Kim, and Gustavo Caetano-Anollés Copyright © 2014 Arshan Nasir et al. All rights reserved. Seasonal Effects in a Lake Sediment Archaeal Community of the Brazilian Savanna Sun, 20 Jul 2014 11:32:43 +0000 The Cerrado is a biome that corresponds to 24% of Brazil’s territory. Only recently microbial communities of this biome have been investigated. Here we describe for the first time the diversity of archaeal communities from freshwater lake sediments of the Cerrado in the dry season and in the transition period between the dry and rainy seasons, when the first rains occur. Gene libraries were constructed, using Archaea-specific primers for the 16S rRNA and amoA genes. Analysis revealed marked differences between the archaeal communities found in the two seasons. I.1a and I.1c Thaumarchaeota were found in greater numbers in the transition period, while MCG Archaea was dominant on the dry season. Methanogens were only found in the dry season. Analysis of 16S rRNA sequences revealed lower diversity on the transition period. We detected archaeal amoA sequences in both seasons, but there were more OTUs during the dry season. These sequences were within the same cluster as Nitrosotalea devanaterra’s amoA gene. The principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) test revealed significant differences between samples from different seasons. These results provide information on archaeal diversity in freshwater lake sediments of the Cerrado and indicates that rain is likely a factor that impacts these communities. Thiago Rodrigues, Elisa Catão, Mercedes M. C. Bustamante, Betania F. Quirino, Ricardo H. Kruger, and Cynthia M. Kyaw Copyright © 2014 Thiago Rodrigues et al. All rights reserved. The Origin and Evolution of the Archaeal Domain Wed, 04 Jun 2014 11:19:24 +0000 Gustavo Caetano-Anollés and Kyung Mo Kim Copyright © 2014 Gustavo Caetano-Anollés and Kyung Mo Kim. All rights reserved. Archaea: The First Domain of Diversified Life Mon, 02 Jun 2014 09:05:15 +0000 The study of the origin of diversified life has been plagued by technical and conceptual difficulties, controversy, and apriorism. It is now popularly accepted that the universal tree of life is rooted in the akaryotes and that Archaea and Eukarya are sister groups to each other. However, evolutionary studies have overwhelmingly focused on nucleic acid and protein sequences, which partially fulfill only two of the three main steps of phylogenetic analysis, formulation of realistic evolutionary models, and optimization of tree reconstruction. In the absence of character polarization, that is, the ability to identify ancestral and derived character states, any statement about the rooting of the tree of life should be considered suspect. Here we show that macromolecular structure and a new phylogenetic framework of analysis that focuses on the parts of biological systems instead of the whole provide both deep and reliable phylogenetic signal and enable us to put forth hypotheses of origin. We review over a decade of phylogenomic studies, which mine information in a genomic census of millions of encoded proteins and RNAs. We show how the use of process models of molecular accumulation that comply with Weston’s generality criterion supports a consistent phylogenomic scenario in which the origin of diversified life can be traced back to the early history of Archaea. Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, Arshan Nasir, Kaiyue Zhou, Derek Caetano-Anollés, Jay E. Mittenthal, Feng-Jie Sun, and Kyung Mo Kim Copyright © 2014 Gustavo Caetano-Anollés et al. All rights reserved. The Bifunctional Pyruvate Decarboxylase/Pyruvate Ferredoxin Oxidoreductase from Thermococcus guaymasensis Thu, 29 May 2014 12:58:16 +0000 The hyperthermophilic archaeon Thermococcus guaymasensis produces ethanol as a metabolic end product, and an alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) catalyzing the reduction of acetaldehyde to ethanol has been purified and characterized. However, the enzyme catalyzing the formation of acetaldehyde has not been identified. In this study an enzyme catalyzing the production of acetaldehyde from pyruvate was purified and characterized from T. guaymasensis under strictly anaerobic conditions. The enzyme had both pyruvate decarboxylase (PDC) and pyruvate ferredoxin oxidoreductase (POR) activities. It was oxygen sensitive, and the optimal temperatures were 85°C and >95°C for the PDC and POR activities, respectively. The purified enzyme had activities of  U mg−1 and  U mg−1, with optimal pH-values of 9.5 and 8.4 for each activity, respectively. Coenzyme A was essential for both activities, although it did not serve as a substrate for the former. Enzyme kinetic parameters were determined separately for each activity. The purified enzyme was a heterotetramer. The sequences of the genes encoding the subunits of the bifunctional PDC/POR were determined. It is predicted that all hyperthermophilic β-keto acids ferredoxin oxidoreductases are bifunctional, catalyzing the activities of nonoxidative and oxidative decarboxylation of the corresponding β-keto acids. Mohammad S. Eram, Erica Oduaran, and Kesen Ma Copyright © 2014 Mohammad S. Eram et al. All rights reserved. Genome-Wide miRNA Seeds Prediction in Archaea Wed, 14 May 2014 09:11:39 +0000 Growing evidence indicates that miRNA genes exist in the archaeal genome, though the functional role of such noncoding RNA remains unclear. Here, we integrated the phylogenetic information of available archaeal genomes to predict miRNA seeds (typically defined as the 2–8 nucleotides of mature miRNAs) on the genomic scale. Finally, we found 2649 candidate seeds with significant conservation signal. Eleven of 29 unique seeds from previous study support our result ( value ), which demonstrates that the pipeline is suitable to predict experimentally detectable miRNA seeds. The statistical significance of the overlap between the detected archaeal seeds and known eukaryotic seeds shows that the miRNA may evolve before the divergence of these two domains of cellular life. In addition, miRNA targets are enriched for genes involved in transcriptional regulation, which is consistent with the situation in eukaryote. Our research will enhance the regulatory network analysis in Archaea. Shengqin Wang, Yuming Xu, and Zuhong Lu Copyright © 2014 Shengqin Wang et al. All rights reserved. An Antimethanogenic Nutritional Intervention in Early Life of Ruminants Modifies Ruminal Colonization by Archaea Sun, 06 Apr 2014 12:10:52 +0000 The aim of this work was to study whether feeding a methanogen inhibitor from birth of goat kids and their does has an impact on the archaeal population colonizing the rumen and to what extent the impact persists later in life. Sixteen goats giving birth to two kids were used. Eight does were treated (D+) with bromochloromethane after giving birth and over 2 months. The other 8 goats were not treated (D−). One kid per doe in both groups was treated with bromochloromethane (k+) for 3 months while the other was untreated (k−), resulting in four experimental groups: D+/k+, D+/k−, D−/k+, and D−/k−. Rumen samples were collected from kids at weaning and 1 and 4 months after (3 and 6 months after birth) and from does at the end of the treating period (2 months). Pyrosequencing analyses showed a modified archaeal community composition colonizing the rumen of kids, although such effect did not persist entirely 4 months after; however, some less abundant groups remained different in treated and control animals. The different response on the archaeal community composition observed between offspring and adult goats suggests that the competition occurring in the developing rumen to occupy different niches offer potential for intervention. Leticia Abecia, Kate E. Waddams, Gonzalo Martínez-Fernandez, A. Ignacio Martín-García, Eva Ramos-Morales, C. Jamie Newbold, and David R. Yáñez-Ruiz Copyright © 2014 Leticia Abecia et al. All rights reserved. Diversity of the DNA Replication System in the Archaea Domain Wed, 26 Mar 2014 09:21:14 +0000 The precise and timely duplication of the genome is essential for cellular life. It is achieved by DNA replication, a complex process that is conserved among the three domains of life. Even though the cellular structure of archaea closely resembles that of bacteria, the information processing machinery of archaea is evolutionarily more closely related to the eukaryotic system, especially for the proteins involved in the DNA replication process. While the general DNA replication mechanism is conserved among the different domains of life, modifications in functionality and in some of the specialized replication proteins are observed. Indeed, Archaea possess specific features unique to this domain. Moreover, even though the general pattern of the replicative system is the same in all archaea, a great deal of variation exists between specific groups. Felipe Sarmiento, Feng Long, Isaac Cann, and William B. Whitman Copyright © 2014 Felipe Sarmiento et al. All rights reserved. Phylogenetic Diversity of Archaea and the Archaeal Ammonia Monooxygenase Gene in Uranium Mining-Impacted Locations in Bulgaria Tue, 11 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0000 Uranium mining and milling activities adversely affect the microbial populations of impacted sites. The negative effects of uranium on soil bacteria and fungi are well studied, but little is known about the effects of radionuclides and heavy metals on archaea. The composition and diversity of archaeal communities inhabiting the waste pile of the Sliven uranium mine and the soil of the Buhovo uranium mine were investigated using 16S rRNA gene retrieval. A total of 355 archaeal clones were selected, and their 16S rDNA inserts were analysed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) discriminating 14 different RFLP types. All evaluated archaeal 16S rRNA gene sequences belong to the 1.1b/Nitrososphaera cluster of Crenarchaeota. The composition of the archaeal community is distinct for each site of interest and dependent on environmental characteristics, including pollution levels. Since the members of 1.1b/Nitrososphaera cluster have been implicated in the nitrogen cycle, the archaeal communities from these sites were probed for the presence of the ammonia monooxygenase gene (amoA). Our data indicate that amoA gene sequences are distributed in a similar manner as in Crenarchaeota, suggesting that archaeal nitrification processes in uranium mining-impacted locations are under the control of the same key factors controlling archaeal diversity. Galina Radeva, Anelia Kenarova, Velina Bachvarova, Katrin Flemming, Ivan Popov, Dimitar Vassilev, and Sonja Selenska-Pobell Copyright © 2014 Galina Radeva et al. All rights reserved. Towards a Computational Model of a Methane Producing Archaeum Tue, 04 Mar 2014 09:58:31 +0000 Progress towards a complete model of the methanogenic archaeum Methanosarcina acetivorans is reported. We characterized size distribution of the cells using differential interference contrast microscopy, finding them to be ellipsoidal with mean length and width of 2.9 μm and 2.3 μm, respectively, when grown on methanol and 30% smaller when grown on acetate. We used the single molecule pull down (SiMPull) technique to measure average copy number of the Mcr complex and ribosomes. A kinetic model for the methanogenesis pathways based on biochemical studies and recent metabolic reconstructions for several related methanogens is presented. In this model, 26 reactions in the methanogenesis pathways are coupled to a cell mass production reaction that updates enzyme concentrations. RNA expression data (RNA-seq) measured for cell cultures grown on acetate and methanol is used to estimate relative protein production per mole of ATP consumed. The model captures the experimentally observed methane production rates for cells growing on methanol and is most sensitive to the number of methyl-coenzyme-M reductase (Mcr) and methyl-tetrahydromethanopterin:coenzyme-M methyltransferase (Mtr) proteins. A draft transcriptional regulation network based on known interactions is proposed which we intend to integrate with the kinetic model to allow dynamic regulation. Joseph R. Peterson, Piyush Labhsetwar, Jeremy R. Ellermeier, Petra R. A. Kohler, Ankur Jain, Taekjip Ha, William W. Metcalf, and Zaida Luthey-Schulten Copyright © 2014 Joseph R. Peterson et al. All rights reserved. Archaeal Genome Guardians Give Insights into Eukaryotic DNA Replication and Damage Response Proteins Thu, 20 Feb 2014 10:17:10 +0000 As the third domain of life, archaea, like the eukarya and bacteria, must have robust DNA replication and repair complexes to ensure genome fidelity. Archaea moreover display a breadth of unique habitats and characteristics, and structural biologists increasingly appreciate these features. As archaea include extremophiles that can withstand diverse environmental stresses, they provide fundamental systems for understanding enzymes and pathways critical to genome integrity and stress responses. Such archaeal extremophiles provide critical data on the periodic table for life as well as on the biochemical, geochemical, and physical limitations to adaptive strategies allowing organisms to thrive under environmental stress relevant to determining the boundaries for life as we know it. Specifically, archaeal enzyme structures have informed the architecture and mechanisms of key DNA repair proteins and complexes. With added abilities to temperature-trap flexible complexes and reveal core domains of transient and dynamic complexes, these structures provide insights into mechanisms of maintaining genome integrity despite extreme environmental stress. The DNA damage response protein structures noted in this review therefore inform the basis for genome integrity in the face of environmental stress, with implications for all domains of life as well as for biomanufacturing, astrobiology, and medicine. David S. Shin, Ashley J. Pratt, and John A. Tainer Copyright © 2014 David S. Shin et al. All rights reserved. Characterization of Ten Heterotetrameric NDP-Dependent Acyl-CoA Synthetases of the Hyperthermophilic Archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus Tue, 11 Feb 2014 07:00:46 +0000 The hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus grows by fermenting peptides and carbohydrates to organic acids. In the terminal step, acyl-CoA synthetase (ACS) isoenzymes convert acyl-CoA derivatives to the corresponding acid and conserve energy in the form of ATP. ACS1 and ACS2 were previously purified from P. furiosus and have structures but the genome contains genes encoding three additional -subunits. The ten possible combinations of and genes were expressed in E. coli and each resulted in stable and active isoenzymes. The -subunit of each isoenzyme determined CoA-based substrate specificity and between them they accounted for the CoA derivatives of fourteen amino acids. The -subunit determined preference for adenine or guanine nucleotides. The GTP-generating isoenzymes are proposed to play a role in gluconeogenesis by producing GTP for GTP-dependent phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase and for other GTP-dependent processes. Transcriptional and proteomic data showed that all ten isoenzymes are constitutively expressed indicating that both ATP and GTP are generated from the metabolism of most of the amino acids. A phylogenetic analysis showed that the ACSs of P. furiosus and other members of the Thermococcales are evolutionarily distinct from those found throughout the rest of biology, including those of other hyperthermophilic archaea. Joseph W. Scott, Farris L. Poole, and Michael W. W. Adams Copyright © 2014 Joseph W. Scott et al. All rights reserved. Comparative Analysis of the Methanogen Diversity in Horse and Pony by Using mcrA Gene and Archaeal 16S rRNA Gene Clone Libraries Thu, 30 Jan 2014 08:09:52 +0000 Comparative analysis of methanogen compositions in the feces of horse and pony was carried out by constructing the α-subunit of methyl coenzyme-M reductase (mcrA) gene and 16S ribosomal RNA gene (16S rRNA) clone libraries. The mcrA clone library analysis indicated that Methanomicrobiales was predominant in both horse and pony. Furthermore, most of the clones of the 16S rRNA gene library showed that Methanomicrobiales was also predominant in horse and pony, but the LIBSHUFF analysis showed that the horse and pony libraries were significantly different (). Most of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) showed low similarity to the identified methanogens in both the mcrA and the 16S rRNA clone libraries. The results suggest that horse and pony harbor unidentified and novel methanogens in their hindgut. The methanogen population was higher in horse than in pony; however, the anaerobic fungal population was similar in horse and pony. The methanogen diversity was different between two breeds of Equus caballus. Khin-Ohnmar Lwin and Hiroki Matsui Copyright © 2014 Khin-Ohnmar Lwin and Hiroki Matsui. All rights reserved.