The recently proposed candidatus order Altiarchaeales remains an uncultured archaeal lineage composed of genetically diverse, globally widespread organisms frequently observed in anoxic subsurface environments. In spite of 15 years of studies on the psychrophilic biofilm-producingCandidatus Altiarchaeum hamiconexum and its close relatives, very little is known about the phylogenetic and functional diversity of the widespread free-living marine members of this taxon. From methanogenic sediments in the White Oak River Estuary, NC, USA, we sequenced a single cell amplified genome (SAG), WOR_SM1_SCG, and used it to identify and refine two high-quality genomes from metagenomes, WOR_SM1_79 and WOR_SM1_86-2, from the same site. These three genomic reconstructions form a monophyletic group, which also includes three previously published genomes from metagenomes from terrestrial springs and a SAG from Sakinaw Lake in a group previously designated as pMC2A384. A synapomorphic mutation in the Altiarchaeales tRNA synthetase β subunit, pheT, caused the protein to be encoded as two subunits at non-adjacent loci. Consistent with the terrestrial spring clades, our estuarine genomes contained a near-complete autotrophic metabolism, H2 or CO as potential electron donors, a reductive acetyl-CoA pathway for carbon fixation, and methylotroph-like NADP(H)-dependent dehydrogenase. Phylogenies based on 16S rRNA genes and concatenated conserved proteins identified two distinct sub-clades of Altiarchaeales, Alti-1 populated by organisms from actively flowing springs, and Alti-2 which was more widespread, diverse, and not associated with visible mats. The core Alti-1 genome suggested Alti-1 is adapted for the stream environment with lipopolysaccharide production capacity and extracellular hami structures. The core Alti-2 genome suggested members of this clade are free-living with distinct mechanisms for energy maintenance, motility, osmoregulation, and sulfur redox reactions. These data suggested that the hamus structures found in Candidatus Altiarchaeum hamiconexum are not present outside of stream-adapted Altiarchaeales. Homologs to a Na+transporter and membrane bound coenzyme A disulfide reductase that were unique to the brackish sediment Alti-2 genomes, could indicate adaptations to the estuarine, sulfur-rich environment.
Diverse microbial communities thrive on and in deep‐sea hydrothermal vent mineral deposits. However, our understanding of the inter‐field variability in these communities is poor, as limited sampling and sequencing efforts have hampered most previous studies. To explore the inter‐field variability in these communities, we used barcoded pyrosequencing of the variable region 4 (V4) of the 16S rRNA gene to characterize the archaeal and bacterial communities of over 30 hydrothermal deposit samples from six vent fields located along the Eastern Lau Spreading Center. Overall, the bacterial and archaeal communities of the Eastern Lau Spreading Center are similar to other active vent deposits, with a high diversity of Epsilonproteobacteria and thermophilic Archaea. However, the archaeal and bacterial communities from the southernmost vent field, Mariner, were significantly different from the other vent fields. At Mariner, the epsilonproteobacterial genus Nautilia and the archaeal family Thermococcaceae were prevalent in most samples, while Lebetimonas and Thermofilaceae were more abundant at the other vent fields. These differences appear to be influenced in part by the unique geochemistry of the Mariner fluids resulting from active degassing of a subsurface magma chamber. These results show that microbial communities associated with hydrothermal vent deposits in back‐arc basins are taxonomically similar to those from mid‐ocean ridge systems, but differences in geologic processes between vent fields in a back‐arc basin can influence microbial community structure.