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Volume 2013, Article ID 202358, 12 pages
Review Article

Close Encounters of the Third Domain: The Emerging Genomic View of Archaeal Diversity and Evolution

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, P.O. Box 596, 75123 Uppsala, Sweden

Received 24 July 2013; Accepted 21 September 2013

Academic Editor: Gustavo Caetano-Anollés

Copyright © 2013 Anja Spang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The Archaea represent the so-called Third Domain of life, which has evolved in parallel with the Bacteria and which is implicated to have played a pivotal role in the emergence of the eukaryotic domain of life. Recent progress in genomic sequencing technologies and cultivation-independent methods has started to unearth a plethora of data of novel, uncultivated archaeal lineages. Here, we review how the availability of such genomic data has revealed several important insights into the diversity, ecological relevance, metabolic capacity, and the origin and evolution of the archaeal domain of life.