The phylum Verrucomicrobia contains freshwater representatives which remain poorly studied at the genomic, taxonomic, and ecological levels. In this work we present eighteen new reconstructed verrucomicrobial genomes from two freshwater reservoirs located close to each other (Tous and Amadorio, Spain). These metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) display a remarkable taxonomic diversity inside the phylum and comprise wide ranges of estimated genome sizes (from 1.8 to 6 Mb). Among all Verrucomicrobia studied we found some of the smallest genomes of the Spartobacteria and Opitutae classes described so far. Some of the Opitutae family MAGs were small, cosmopolitan, with a general heterotrophic metabolism with preference for carbohydrates, and capable of xylan, chitin, or cellulose degradation. Besides, we assembled large copiotroph genomes, which contain a higher number of transporters, polysaccharide degrading pathways and in general more strategies for the uptake of nutrients and carbohydrate-based metabolic pathways in comparison with the representatives with the smaller genomes. The diverse genomes revealed interesting features like green-light absorbing rhodopsins and a complete set of genes involved in nitrogen fixation. The large diversity in genome sizes and physiological properties emphasize the diversity of this clade in freshwaters enlarging even further the already broad eco-physiological range of these microbes.
Keywords: freshwater Verrucomicrobia; genome streamlining; metagenomics; nitrogen fixation; rhodopsin.