Genome-resolved metagenomics reveals site-specific diversity of episymbiotic CPR bacteria and DPANN archaea in groundwater ecosystems

Nat Microbiol. 2021 Mar;6(3):354-365. doi: 10.1038/s41564-020-00840-5. Epub 2021 Jan 25.


Candidate phyla radiation (CPR) bacteria and DPANN archaea are unisolated, small-celled symbionts that are often detected in groundwater. The effects of groundwater geochemistry on the abundance, distribution, taxonomic diversity and host association of CPR bacteria and DPANN archaea has not been studied. Here, we performed genome-resolved metagenomic analysis of one agricultural and seven pristine groundwater microbial communities and recovered 746 CPR and DPANN genomes in total. The pristine sites, which serve as local sources of drinking water, contained up to 31% CPR bacteria and 4% DPANN archaea. We observed little species-level overlap of metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) across the groundwater sites, indicating that CPR and DPANN communities may be differentiated according to physicochemical conditions and host populations. Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy imaging and genomic analyses enabled us to identify CPR and DPANN lineages that reproducibly attach to host cells and showed that the growth of CPR bacteria seems to be stimulated by attachment to host-cell surfaces. Our analysis reveals site-specific diversity of CPR bacteria and DPANN archaea that coexist with diverse hosts in groundwater aquifers. Given that CPR and DPANN organisms have been identified in human microbiomes and their presence is correlated with diseases such as periodontitis, our findings are relevant to considerations of drinking water quality and human health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Archaea / classification
  • Archaea / physiology*
  • Archaea / ultrastructure
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / ultrastructure
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Ecosystem*
  • Groundwater / chemistry
  • Groundwater / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Metagenome
  • Metagenomics / methods*
  • Microbiota
  • Phylogeny
  • Symbiosis