Diversity and function of methyl-coenzyme M reductase-encoding archaea in Yellowstone hot springs revealed by metagenomics and mesocosm experiments
Lynes, Mackenzie M.
Jay, Zackary J.
Kohtz, Anthony J.
Gobrogge, Christine A.
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Metagenomic studies on geothermal environments have been central in recent discoveries on the diversity of archaeal methane and alkane metabolism. Here, we investigated methanogenic populations inhabiting terrestrial geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) by combining amplicon sequencing with metagenomics and mesocosm experiments. Detection of methyl-coenzyme M reductase subunit A (mcrA) gene amplicons demonstrated a wide diversity of Mcr-encoding archaea inhabit geothermal features with differing physicochemical regimes across YNP. From three selected hot springs we recovered twelve Mcr-encoding metagenome assembled genomes (MAGs) affiliated with lineages of cultured methanogens as well as Candidatus (Ca.) Methanomethylicia, Ca. Hadesarchaeia, and Archaeoglobi. These MAGs encoded the potential for hydrogenotrophic, aceticlastic, hydrogen-dependent methylotrophic methanogenesis, or anaerobic short-chain alkane oxidation. While Mcr-encoding archaea represent minor fractions of the microbial community of hot springs, mesocosm experiments with methanogenic precursors resulted in the stimulation of methanogenic activity and the enrichment of lineages affiliated with Methanosaeta and Methanothermobacter as well as with uncultured Mcr-encoding archaea including Ca. Korarchaeia, Ca. Nezhaarchaeia, and Archaeoglobi. We revealed that diverse Mcr-encoding archaea with the metabolic potential to produce methane from different precursors persist in the geothermal environments of YNP and can be enriched under methanogenic conditions. This study highlights the importance of combining environmental metagenomics with laboratory-based experiments to expand our understanding of uncultured Mcr-encoding archaea and their potential impact on microbial carbon transformations in geothermal environments and beyond.
Lynes, M.M., Krukenberg, V., Jay, Z.J. et al. Diversity and function of methyl-coenzyme M reductase-encoding archaea in Yellowstone hot springs revealed by metagenomics and mesocosm experiments. ISME COMMUN. 3, 22 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43705-023-00225-9