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SJTU Team Discovered Achaea in Metabolism of Lignin in Marine Sediments

May 19, 2018      Author: Wang Fengping

Recently, the research results entitled Growth of Sedimentary Bathyarchaeota on Lignin as An Energy Source by a team led by Professor Wang Fengping of the School of Life Science and Technology of SJTU was published on the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America PNAS. The study discovered a new lignin degrading archaea -- Bathyarchaeota subgroup Bathy-8, which is an important archaeal group in marine sediments and plays an essential role in the marine carbon cycle. Prof. Wang Fengping is the corresponding author, and Dr. Yu Tiantian from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Dr. Wu Weichao from the University of Bremen in Germany were the co-first authors.

Their work has been supported by National Key Research and Development Projects (2016YFA0601102)and Natural Science Foundation of China (41525011,91751205, 91428308).


Abstract: Members of the archaeal phylum Bathyarchaeota are among the most abundant microorganisms on Earth. Although versatile metabolic capabilities such as acetogenesis, methanogenesis, and fermentation have been suggested for bathyarchaeotal members, no direct confirmation of these metabolic functions has been achieved through growth of Bathyarchaeota in the laboratory. Here we demonstrate, on the basis of gene-copy numbers and probing of archaeal lipids, the growth of Bathyarchaeota subgroup Bathy-8 in enrichments of estuarine sediments with the biopolymer lignin. Other organic substrates (casein, oleic acid, cellulose, and phenol) did not significantly stimulate growth of Bathyarchaeota. Meanwhile, putative bathyarchaeotal tetraether lipids incorporated 13C from 13C-bicarbonate only when added in concert with lignin. Our results are consistent with organoautotrophic growth of a bathyarchaeotal group with lignin as an energy source and bicarbonate as a carbon source and shed light into the cycling of one of Earth's most abundant biopolymers in anoxic marine sediment.


Translated by Zhu Fengyan    Reviewed by Wang Bingyu