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Archaeon Contributes to Subsurface Carbon Fixation

Alex_jillSource: Alexander Probst, Dan Hawkes

In a paper published this week (Nov. 25, 2014) in Nature Communications, a team of scientists headed by ESD’s Alexander Probst (and including ESD’s Jillian Banfield and Christine Moissl-Eichinger of the University of Regensburg, Germany) recently documented the ecology and physiology of a novel uncultivated archaeon that dominates two terrestrial subsurface environments, one of which is Crystal Geyser, a CO2-driven aquifer rich in dissolved ferrous iron in the Colorado Plateau of Utah. The archaeon has remarkable nanograppling hook appendages that interlink the cells. It can fix carbon dioxide, and thus may have an unexpected role in the subsurface carbon cycle. This work documented the structural novelty of an unexplored microbial lineage and its genetic basis (novel reductive acetyl-CoA pathway) to act as an important carbon sink in the subsurface.

Probst and Banfield would like to give special mention to Joanne Emerson for her work on this project. Emerson did Ph.D. research at the Crystal Geyser site and was supported for a part of her research by Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) Nanoscale Control of Geologic CO2 (NCGC) funding.

Figure 1: Scanning electron microscopy of SM1 euryarchaeal biofilm samples.

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Probst, A.J., T. Weinmaier, K. Raymann, A. Perras, J.B. Emerson, T. Rattei, G. Wanner, A. Klingl, I.A. Berg, M. Yoshinaga, B. Viehweger, K.-U. Hinrichs, B.C. Thomas, S. Meck, A.K. Auerbach, M. Heise, A. Schintlmeister, M. Schmid, M. Wagner, S. Gribaldo, J.F. Banfield, and C. Moissl-Eichinger (2014), Biology of an uncultivated widespread archaeon that contributes to carbon fixation in the subsurface. Nature Communications, 5; DOI: 10.1038/ncomm6497.

Funding Source: EFRC-NCGC


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