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DO M A I N : A R C H A E A

Carl Woese

Utilized sequence data from small subunit ribosomal RNA


Led to the surprising discovery of Archaea


Represents a third line of evolutionary descent

Contains prokaryotic lineage but is more related to eukaryotic cells than bacterial cells

Members of Archaea inhabit a variety of the most hostile environments known to support life on earth

Implicated as major components in global ecosystems

- Sulfur, Nitrogen and Carbon cycles

Known to interact with other species

- Eukaryotes and prokaryotes

Archaeal enzymes are playing an important role in the industry of biotechnology

- Enzymes from thermophilic archaea are more stable to high temperature, presence of solvents and
resistance to proteolysis
DO M A I N : A R C H A E A
Phylum Crenarchaeota

Single celled organism

Microbial species with highest known growth temperatures of any organisms.

Grow best between 80-100

Several species also live in acidic conditions

Most hyperthermophilic species are found marin or terrestrial volcanic environments.

Metabolically ranges from chemoorganotrophs to chemolithoautotrophs

Utilizes sulfur for metabolism

They are anaerobes, facultative anaerobes, or aerobes.

Phylum Crenarchaeota

Uses carbon dioxide as sole carbon source

GAINS energy by oxidation of inorganic substances like sulfur, reduces to nitrate.

Others grow by aerobic or anaerobic respiration by fermentation

Can survive long period of time in low temperature

Sulfobolus solfataricus
Sulfobolus solfataricus

Thermophilic and acidophilic

Has coccoid cells that are highly irregular in shape

Found in sulfur caldrons at high temperature and low pH

Grows only in the presence of oxygen (aerobic)

Optimally grow in 75-80C and in pH 2.5-3.5

Membrane contains tetraether lipid and contains up to 98% of all lipids

Lipids contained are highly proton impermeable

Variable response to gram stain

Sulfobolus solfataricus

Capable of biodesulfurization by consumption of dibenzothiophene (DBT)

More efficient in biodelsulfurization compared to mesophilic/moderate thermophilic bacteria

Utilizes DBT and its derivatives more due to hyperthermophilic conditions

Date visited: 1/21/2017
DO M A I N : A R C H A E A
Phylum Euryarchaeota

Largest and most physiologically diverse group of archaea

Mostly consists of extremophiles ranging from extremely halophilic archaeons to the strictest anaerobic

The phylum is divided further in to five groups: extremely halophilic archaea, methanogenic archaea,
thermoplasmatales, thermococcales, and archaeglobales
Phylum Euryarchaeota

Lives in areas with high salt content

Requires salt levels up to 5.5M NaCl

Contains bacteriorhodopsin and bacterioruberins, which gives salt lakes their red color

Requires an extremely high amount of Na+ ions, and can only be satisfied by these ions. Potassium ions,
however, are required for the osmotic balance in the cell.
Phylum Euryarchaeota

Produce methane as an integral part of their metabolism

Extremophilic due to strict anaerobic condition required to grow

Use several substrates for conversion to methane.

Glucose and organic fatty acids are not substrates which they can utilize

With the help of other anaerobes, they can use virtually any organic compound, including hydrocarbons.
Phylum Euryarchaeota

Known for its extremely acidophilic members

They bear resemblance to mycoplasmas - lack of cell walls

Facultatively aerobic, growing either aerobically or anearobically by sulfur respiration

Inhabit mining areas and near volcanic craters

To survive such acidic environments, their membranes are made of lipoglycan, made up of mannose and
glucose tetraether lipid layer
Phylum Euryarchaeota


Hyperthermophiles found near hydrothermal vents under the sea

Optimum growth temperature of 70 to 100C
Utilize elemental sulfur as an electron acceptor in metabolism

Have a generation time of less than 1 hour in 100C
Unique due to its unsaturated cell membrane
Thermococcus gammatolerans

A coccoid , multiflagelated archaeon that is a member of the Thermococcales genus

Has a circular chromosome of 2.045 mbp without any extra-chromosomal elements, coding for 2,157 proteins

An anaerobic and hyperthermophilic sulfur-reducing organism living in deep-sea hydrothermal vents

Exhibits high resistance to cadmium (Cd), cobalt (Co) and zinc (Zn)

Has a G+C content of 56.08%

Thermococcus gammatolerans

Microbial L-Asparaginase has been identified

- currently being researched for its promising anti-cancer properties

The archaeon is of importance in the field of medicine, especially in the study of carcinogenesis, and
incorporation of its DNA repairing mechanisms into higher forms of organisms to prevent cell aging
Thermococcus gammatolerans

Most radioactive resistant organism on earth

A human will die of 5Gy (Gray), a unit of measurement for gamma ray

A colony of E. coli will die at 60 Gy

T. gammatolerans can withstand radiation doses up to 30,000 Gy

without damage to its DNA
DO M A I N : A R C H A E A
Phylum Korarchaeota

Only characterized species in the phylum

Candidatus Korarchaeum cryptofilum has yet to be grown in pure culture

Genome indicates the ff:

- Utilizes fermentative lifestyle (fermentation of peptides or amino acids)

- Lacks many core genes in biosynthesis (synthesis of purines and cofactors)

- Obtains these essential components from the environment

- Dependence on other members of the hot spring microbial community

DO M A I N : A R C H A E A
Phylum Nanoarchaeota

Dwarf or tiny ancient one

Nano-sized hyperthermophilic symbiont found in marine thermal vent environments

Currently has only one identified specie

Nanoarchaeum equitans

First found in Iceland. These organisms were found

to colonize the habitat within 96 h of the vent

Nanoarchaeum equitans cells are the smallest

microorganisms known to date, tiny spheres with a
diameter of only 400 nanometers

The analysis of the genome showed the smallest

known archaeal genome and one of the smallest
genomes of all living cells.

Possesses a unique 16S rRNA gene sequence that is

substantially different than the universal archaeal Phylogenetic tree based on 16S rRNA gene sequence
sequence comparisons.
Unique archaeal symbioticparasitic relationship between Nanoarchaeum
equitans and Ignicoccus species

Isolated from a submarine hot vent that only grows when in coculture with the
chemolithoautotrophic Ignicoccus species strain KIN4/I

Nanoarchaeum equitans lacks almost all known genes required for the
biosyntheses of amino acids, nucleotides, cofactors, and lipids. It also has no genes
to support a chemolithoautotrophic physiology, which is how Ignicoccus gains its
energy (by using hydrogen to reduce elemental sulfur)
Ignicoccus hospitalis

Grows optimally at 90 C

They produce all cell components themselves, so they do not need any organic nutrients in the medium.

C = cytoplasm
IM = inner membrane

IMC = intermembrane space

OCM = outer cell membrane
V = vesicle

Scale: 0.5 m
Metabolic pathways of Ignicoccus hospitalis
DO M A I N : A R C H A E A
Phylum Thaumarchaeota

Recently proposed phylum under Archaea

Existed before the divergence of Euryarchaeota and Crenarchaeota

Ammonia-oxidizing organisms from soil, marine waters, and hot springs

Cultivated Thaumarchaeota perform the first step in nitrification, i.e., they oxidize ammonia to
nitrite aerobically

Live under autotrophic conditions and fix CO2

Some are dependent on the presence of other bacteria or small amounts of organic material
Candidatus Giganthauma karukerense

Consist of giant cells

coated with sulfur-oxidizing gammaproteobacteria

able to live in sulfide-rich environment

ex. tropical mangrove swamp roots, stones, sunken wood

one of the biggest archaeal cells ever described

in a natural environment
Candidatus Giganthauma karukerense

Characterized by a total length of up to 30 mm

Assemblage of cells with a diameter up to 10 mm
Each filament is approximately composed of 1,500 cells
Candidatus Giganthauma karukerense

Unknown cell wall composition

No nuclei or organells
DNA occupies the entire cytoplasm
Numerous ribosomes are detected
Candidatus Giganthauma karukerense

Gammaproteobacteria ectosymbiont
- free-living sulfur-oxidizing bacteria

Rod shaped
Double membrane characteristic of Gram-negative bacteria
Cytoplasm contains elemental sulfur granules
distributed regularly forming a monolayer of
extracellular prokaryotic cells

Symbiotic relationship
- Unclear
- could allow growth of the host in sulfide concentrated environments
- minimizes the sulfide toxicity for the host
Candidatus Giganthauma karukerense

Involved in global energy cycles

Ex. Sulfur cycle

First evolutionary step to discovering a vast increase in:

- Cellular complexity
- Origin of highly complex multi-cellular organisms

Behera, B.C, Mishra, R.R., Dutta, S.K, Et. al (2014) Sulphur oxidising bacteria in mangrove ecosystem: A review.
Academic Journals. pp. 2897-2907, Vol. 13(29)

Muller, F., Brissac, T., Le Bris, N., Et. al (2010) First description of giant Archaea (Thaumarchaeota) associated
with putative bacterial ectosymbionts in a sulfidic marine habitat. Environmental Microbiology. pp. 2371-2383,

Madigan, M., Martinko, J., Bender, K. , Et. Al (2015) Brock Biology of Microorganisms. USA: Pearson