Alternative strategies of nutrient acquisition and energy conservation map to the biogeography of marine ammonia-oxidizing archaea

Wei Qin, Yue Zheng, Feng Zhao, Yulin Wang, Hidetoshi Urakawa, Willm Martens-Habbena, Haodong Liu, Xiaowu Huang, Xinxu Zhang, Tatsunori Nakagawa, Daniel R. Mende, Annette Bollmann, Baozhan Wang, Yao Zhang, Shady A. Amin, Jeppe L. Nielsen, Koji Mori, Reiji Takahashi, E. Virginia Armbrust, Mari K.H. WinklerEdward F. DeLong, Meng Li, Po Heng Lee, Jizhong Zhou, Chuanlun Zhang, Tong Zhang, David A. Stahl, Anitra E. Ingalls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) are among the most abundant and ubiquitous microorganisms in the ocean, exerting primary control on nitrification and nitrogen oxides emission. Although united by a common physiology of chemoautotrophic growth on ammonia, a corresponding high genomic and habitat variability suggests tremendous adaptive capacity. Here, we compared 44 diverse AOA genomes, 37 from species cultivated from samples collected across diverse geographic locations and seven assembled from metagenomic sequences from the mesopelagic to hadopelagic zones of the deep ocean. Comparative analysis identified seven major marine AOA genotypic groups having gene content correlated with their distinctive biogeographies. Phosphorus and ammonia availabilities as well as hydrostatic pressure were identified as selective forces driving marine AOA genotypic and gene content variability in different oceanic regions. Notably, AOA methylphosphonate biosynthetic genes span diverse oceanic provinces, reinforcing their importance for methane production in the ocean. Together, our combined comparative physiological, genomic, and metagenomic analyses provide a comprehensive view of the biogeography of globally abundant AOA and their adaptive radiation into a vast range of marine and terrestrial habitats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2595-2609
Number of pages15
JournalISME Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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