Bathyarchaeota: Globally distributed metabolic generalists in anoxic environments

Zhichao Zhou, Jie Pan, Fengping Wang, Ji Dong Gu, Meng Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

178 Scopus citations


Bathyarchaeota, formerly known as the Miscellaneous Crenarchaeotal Group, is a phylum of global generalists that are widespread in anoxic sediments, which host relatively high abundance archaeal communities. Until now, 25 subgroups have been identified in the Bathyarchaeota. The distinct bathyarchaeotal subgroups diverged to adapt to marine and freshwater environments. Based on the physiological and genomic evidence, acetyl-coenzyme A-centralized heterotrophic pathways of energy conservation have been proposed to function in Bathyarchaeota; these microbes are able to anaerobically utilize (i) detrital proteins, (ii) polymeric carbohydrates, (iii) fatty acids/aromatic compounds, (iv) methane (or short chain alkane) and methylated compounds, and/or (v) potentially other organic matter. Furthermore, bathyarchaeotal members have wide metabolic capabilities, including acetogenesis, methane metabolism, and dissimilatory nitrogen and sulfur reduction, and they also have potential interactions with anaerobic methane-oxidizing archaea, acetoclastic methanogens and heterotrophic bacteria. These results have not only demonstrated multiple and important ecological functions of this archaeal phylum, but also paved the way for a detailed understanding of the evolution and metabolism of archaea as such. This review summarizes the recent findings pertaining to the ecological, physiological and genomic aspects of Bathyarchaeota, highlighting the vital role of this phylum in global carbon cycling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-655
Number of pages17
JournalFEMS Microbiology Reviews
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Bathyarchaeota
  • Carbon cycling
  • Distribution pattern
  • Diversity
  • Genomics
  • Metabolism


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