Christina Baughan at the Biddle lab, University of Delaware.
Numerous archaeal lineages are known to inhabit marine subsurface sediments, although their distributions, metabolic capacities, and interspecies interactions are still not well understood. Abundant and diverse archaea were recently reported in Costa Rica (CR) margin subseafloor sediments recovered during IODP Expedition 334. Here, we recover metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) of archaea from the CR margin and compare them to their relatives from shallower settings. We describe 31 MAGs of six different archaeal lineages (Lokiarchaeota, Thorarchaeota, Heimdallarchaeota, Bathyarcheota, Thermoplasmatales, and Hadesarchaea) and thoroughly analyze representative MAGs from the phyla Lokiarchaeota and Bathyarchaeota. Our analysis suggests the potential capability of Lokiarchaeota members to anaerobically degrade aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons. We show it is genetically possible and energetically feasible for Lokiarchaeota to degrade benzoate if they associate with organisms using nitrate, nitrite, and sulfite as electron acceptors, which suggests a possibility of syntrophic relationships between Lokiarchaeota and nitrite and sulfite reducing bacteria. The novel Bathyarchaeota lineage possesses an incomplete methanogenesis pathway lacking the methyl coenzyme M reductase complex and encodes a noncanonical acetogenic pathway potentially coupling methylotrophy to acetogenesis via the methyl branch of Wood–Ljungdahl pathway. These metabolic characteristics suggest the potential of this Bathyarchaeota lineage to be a transition between methanogenic and acetogenic Bathyarchaeota lineages. This work expands our knowledge about the metabolic functional repertoire of marine benthic archaea.