• Archaeoglobus lithotrophicus;
  • 4-hydroxybutyryl-CoA dehydratase;
  • autotrophy;
  • dicarboxylate/hydroxybutyrate cycle;
  • hydroxypropionate/hydroxybutyrate cycle;
  • ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase


Several representatives of the euryarchaeal class Archaeoglobi are able to grow facultative autotrophically using the reductive acetyl-CoA pathway, with ‘Archaeoglobus lithotrophicus’ being an obligate autotroph. However, genome sequencing revealed that some species harbor genes for key enzymes of other autotrophic pathways, i.e. 4-hydroxybutyryl-CoA dehydratase of the dicarboxylate/hydroxybutyrate cycle and the hydroxypropionate/hydroxybutyrate cycle and ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) of the Calvin–Benson cycle. This raised the question of whether only one or multiple autotrophic pathways are operating in these species. We searched for the presence of enzyme activities specific for the dicarboxylate/hydroxybutyrate or the hydroxypropionate/hydroxybutyrate cycles in ‘A. lithotrophicus’, but such enzymes could not be detected. Low Rubisco activity was detected that could not account for the carbon dioxide (CO2) fixation rate; in addition, phosphoribulokinase activity was not found. The generation of ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate from 5-phospho-d-ribose 1-pyrophosphate was observed, but not from AMP; these sources for ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate have been proposed before. Our data indicate that the reductive acetyl-CoA pathway is the only functioning CO2 fixation pathway in ‘A. lithotrophicus’.