Rxivist logo

Evidence for non-methanogenic metabolisms in globally distributed archaeal clades basal to the Methanomassiliicoccales

By Laura A Zinke, Paul N. Evans, Alena L. Schroeder, Donovan H. Parks, Ruth K Varner, Virginia I. Rich, Gene W. Tyson, Joanne B. Emerson

Posted 11 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.09.984617

Recent discoveries of mcr and mcr-like complexes in genomes from diverse archaeal lineages suggest that methane (and more broadly alkane) metabolism is an ancient pathway with complicated evolutionary histories. The conventional view is that methanogenesis is an ancestral metabolism of the archaeal class Thermoplasmata. Through comparative genomic analysis of 12 Thermoplasmata metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), we show that these microorganisms do not encode the genes required for methanogenesis, which suggests that this metabolism may have been laterally acquired by an ancestor of the order Methanomassiliicoccales. These MAGs include representatives from four orders basal to the Methanomassiliicoccales, including a high-quality MAG (95% complete) that likely represents a new order, Ca. Lunaplasma lacustris ord. nov. sp. nov. These MAGs are predicted to use diverse energy conservation pathways, such as heterotrophy, sulfur and hydrogen metabolism, denitrification, and fermentation. Two of these lineages are globally widespread among anoxic, sedimentary environments, with the exception of Ca. Lunaplasma lacustris, which has thus far only been detected in alpine caves and subarctic lake sediments. These findings advance our understanding of the metabolic potential, ecology, and global distribution of the Thermoplasmata and provide new insights into the evolutionary history of methanogenesis within the Thermoplasmata.

Download data

  • Downloaded 629 times
  • Download rankings, all-time:
    • Site-wide: 26,473 out of 100,701
    • In microbiology: 1,738 out of 8,912
  • Year to date:
    • Site-wide: 4,870 out of 100,701
  • Since beginning of last month:
    • Site-wide: 8,638 out of 100,701

Altmetric data

Downloads over time

Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide


Sign up for the Rxivist weekly newsletter! (Click here for more details.)


  • 20 Oct 2020: Support for sorting preprints using Twitter activity has been removed, at least temporarily, until a new source of social media activity data becomes available.
  • 18 Dec 2019: We're pleased to announce PanLingua, a new tool that enables you to search for machine-translated bioRxiv preprints using more than 100 different languages.
  • 21 May 2019: PLOS Biology has published a community page about Rxivist.org and its design.
  • 10 May 2019: The paper analyzing the Rxivist dataset has been published at eLife.
  • 1 Mar 2019: We now have summary statistics about bioRxiv downloads and submissions.
  • 8 Feb 2019: Data from Altmetric is now available on the Rxivist details page for every preprint. Look for the "donut" under the download metrics.
  • 30 Jan 2019: preLights has featured the Rxivist preprint and written about our findings.
  • 22 Jan 2019: Nature just published an article about Rxivist and our data.
  • 13 Jan 2019: The Rxivist preprint is live!