An archaeal symbiont-host association from the deep terrestrial subsurface

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Abstract

DPANN archaea have reduced metabolic capacities and are diverse and abundant in deep aquifer ecosystems, yet little is known about their interactions with other microorganisms that reside there. Here, we provide evidence for an archaeal host-symbiont association from a deep aquifer system at the Colorado Plateau (Utah, USA). The symbiont, Candidatus Huberiarchaeum crystalense, and its host, Ca. Altiarchaeum hamiconexum, show a highly significant co-occurrence pattern over 65 metagenome samples collected over six years. The physical association of the two organisms was confirmed with genome-informed fluorescence in situ hybridization depicting small cocci of Ca. H. crystalense attached to Ca. A. hamiconexum cells. Based on genomic information, Ca. H. crystalense potentially scavenges vitamins, sugars, nucleotides, and reduced redox-equivalents from its host and thus has a similar metabolism as Nanoarchaeum equitans. These results provide insight into host-symbiont interactions among members of two uncultivated archaeal phyla that thrive in a deep subsurface aquifer.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by the Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (“Nachwuchsgruppe Dr. Alexander Probst”). Parts of this research were carried out under the Sloan Award Deep Life (G-2017-9955, subaward 53588).  A.S. is supported by a grant of the Swedish Research Council (VR starting grant 2016-03559) and the NWO-I foundation of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (WISE fellowship).

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Correspondence to Alexander J. Probst.

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