Hydrothermal vents release reduced compounds and small organic carbon compounds into the surrounding seawater, providing essential substrates for microbial growth and bioenergy transformations. Despite the wide distribution of the marine benthic group E archaea (referred to as Hydrothermarchaeota) in the hydrothermal environment, little is known about their genomic repertoires and biogeochemical significance. Here, we studied four highly complete (>80%) metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) from a black smoker chimney and the surrounding sulfur-rich sediments on the South Atlantic Mid-Ocean Ridge and publicly available data sets (the Integrated Microbial Genomes system of the U.S. Department of Energy-Joint Genome Institute and NCBI SRA data sets). Genomic analysis suggested a wide carbon metabolic diversity of Hydrothermarchaeota members, including the utilization of proteins, lactate, and acetate; the anaerobic degradation of aromatics; the oxidation of C1 compounds (CO, formate, and formaldehyde); the utilization of methyl compounds; CO2 incorporation by the tetrahydromethanopterin-based Wood-Ljungdahl pathway; and participation in the type III ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase-based Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle. These microbes also potentially oxidize sulfur, arsenic, and hydrogen and engage in anaerobic respiration based on sulfate reduction and denitrification. Among the 140 MAGs reconstructed from the black smoker chimney microbial community (including Hydrothermarchaeota MAGs), community-level metabolic predictions suggested a redundancy of carbon utilization and element cycling functions and interactive syntrophic and sequential utilization of substrates. These processes might make various carbon and energy sources widely accessible to the microorganisms. Further, the analysis suggested that Hydrothermarchaeota members contained important functional components obtained from the community via lateral gene transfer, becoming a distinctive clade. This might serve as a niche-adaptive strategy for metabolizing heavy metals, C1 compounds, and reduced sulfur compounds. Collectively, the analysis provides comprehensive metabolic insights into the Hydrothermarchaeota IMPORTANCE This study provides comprehensive metabolic insights into the Hydrothermarchaeota from comparative genomics, evolution, and community-level perspectives. Members of the Hydrothermarchaeota synergistically participate in a wide range of carbon-utilizing and element cycling processes with other microorganisms in the community. We expand the current understanding of community interactions within the hydrothermal sediment and chimney, suggesting that microbial interactions based on sequential substrate metabolism are essential to nutrient and element cycling.
Keywords: Hydrothermarchaeota; carbon utilization; community-level interaction; comparative genomics; element cycling; hydrothermal sediment; lateral gene transfer.
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