Phylogenetic ecology of widespread uncultured clades of the Kingdom Euryarchaeota

Authors

  • ALBERT BARBERÁN,

    1. Biogeodynamics and Biodiversity Group, Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes—CSIC, Accés Cala St. Francesc 14, 17300 Blanes, Spain
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  • ANTONI FERNÁNDEZ-GUERRA,

    1. Biogeodynamics and Biodiversity Group, Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes—CSIC, Accés Cala St. Francesc 14, 17300 Blanes, Spain
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  • JEAN-CHRISTOPHE AUGUET,

    1. Biogeodynamics and Biodiversity Group, Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes—CSIC, Accés Cala St. Francesc 14, 17300 Blanes, Spain
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  • PIERRE E. GALAND,

    1. Biogeodynamics and Biodiversity Group, Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes—CSIC, Accés Cala St. Francesc 14, 17300 Blanes, Spain
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  • EMILIO O. CASAMAYOR

    1. Biogeodynamics and Biodiversity Group, Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes—CSIC, Accés Cala St. Francesc 14, 17300 Blanes, Spain
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Albert Barberan, Fax: 34 972 337806; E-mail: abarberan@ceab.csic.es

Abstract

Despite its widespread distribution and high levels of phylogenetic diversity, microbes are poorly understood creatures. We applied a phylogenetic ecology approach in the Kingdom Euryarchaeota (Archaea) to gain insight into the environmental distribution and evolutionary history of one of the most ubiquitous and largely unknown microbial groups. We compiled 16S rRNA gene sequences from our own sequence libraries and public genetic databases for two of the most widespread mesophilic Euryarchaeota clades, Lake Dagow Sediment (LDS) and Rice Cluster-V (RC-V). The inferred population history indicated that both groups have undergone specific nonrandom evolution within environments, with several noteworthy habitat transition events. Remarkably, the LDS and RC-V groups had enormous levels of genetic diversity when compared with other microbial groups, and proliferation of sequences within each single clade was accompanied by significant ecological differentiation. Additionally, the freshwater Euryarchaeota counterparts unexpectedly showed high phylogenetic diversity, possibly promoted by their environmental adaptability and the heterogeneous nature of freshwater ecosystems. The temporal phylogenetic diversification pattern of these freshwater Euryarchaeota was concentrated both in early times and recently, similarly to other much less diverse but deeply sampled archaeal groups, further stressing that their genetic diversity is a function of environment plasticity. For the vast majority of living beings on Earth (i.e. the uncultured microorganisms), how they differ in the genetic or physiological traits used to exploit the environmental resources is largely unknown. Inferring population history from 16S rRNA gene-based molecular phylogenies under an ecological perspective may shed light on the intriguing relationships between lineage, environment, evolution and diversity in the microbial world.

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