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Lokiarchaeon is hydrogen dependent


The nature of the host that acquired the mitochondrion at the eukaryote origin is an important microbial evolutionary issue. Modern phylogenetics indicates that the host was an archaeon. The metagenome sequence of Candidatus Lokiarchaeon has identified it as being the closest relative of the host yet known. Here, we report comparative genomic evidence indicating that Lokiarchaeon is hydrogen dependent, as one theory for the eukaryote origin—the hydrogen hypothesis—predicts for the host lineage.

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Figure 1: Identification of typical genes of H2-dependent, anaerobic autotrophs.


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W.F.M. is grateful to the European Research Council (ERC AdG 666053) for funding. J.F.A. holds a Leverhulme Trust Emeritus Research Fellowship. N.L. is grateful to the Leverhulme Trust and UCL Research Frontiers Origins of Life Programme for funding.

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Authors and Affiliations



F.L.S. and W.F.M. designed the research. F.L.S. and S.N. performed the analysis. J.F.A. and N.L. assessed and commented on the results and conclusion. All authors discussed the results. F.L.S., J.F.A., N.L. and W.F.M. wrote the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to William F. Martin.

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary information

Supplementary Table captions and References (PDF 198 kb)

Supplementary Table 1

List of the pathways/enzymes (Pathway/enzyme) and genes (Gene) used to BLAST the Lokiarchaeon genome as well as their taxonomic source (Organism), reference (Reference), sequence identifier (Identifier) and accession (Accession) of the queries used. (XLSX 139 kb)

Supplementary Table 2

Ten best BLAST results including their taxonomic classification obtained from RefSeq (version 72, November 2015) using as queries the Lokiarchaeon genes previously identified. A cut-off for similarity of at least 25% and E-value lower than 10-10 was used. (XLSX 301 kb)

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Sousa, F., Neukirchen, S., Allen, J. et al. Lokiarchaeon is hydrogen dependent. Nat Microbiol 1, 16034 (2016).

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