Methanogenesis on Early Stages of Life: Ancient but Not Primordial
Of the six known autotrophic pathways, the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway (WL) is the only one present in both the acetate producing Bacteria (homoacetogens) and the methane producing Archaea (hydrogenotrophic methanogens), and it has been suggested that WL is one of the oldest metabolic pathways. However, only the so-called carbonyl branch is shared by Archaea and Bacteria, while the methyl branch is different, both in the number of reactions and enzymes, which are not homologous among them. In this work we show that some parts of the methyl branch of archaeal Wood-Ljungdahl pathway (MBWL) are present in bacteria as well as in non-methanogen archaea, although the tangled evolutionary history of MBWL cannot be traced back to the Last Common Ancestor. We have also analyzed the different variants of methanogenesis (hydrogenotrophic, acetoclastic and methylotrophic pathways), and concluded that each of these pathways, and every different enzyme or subunit (in the case of multimeric enzymes), has their own intricate evolutionary history. Our study supports the scenario of hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis being older than the other variants, albeit not old enough to be present in the last archaeal common ancestor.
KeywordsMethanogenesis Wood-Ljungdahl pathway Archaea Last common ancestor (LCA) Methanogenic coenzymes
We are indebted to Dr. José Alberto Campillo-Balderas for his help with the manuscript. Financial support of DGAPA-UNAM (PAPIIT-IN223916) is gratefully acknowledged. IM-V is a student from the Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and received fellowship 415961 from CONACyT. CGF and JP acknowledge financial support from Mineco/FEDER (grant references: BFU2015-64322-C2-1-R and BIO2015-66960-C3-1-R) and the Generalitat Valenciana (grant reference: PROMETEOII/2014/065).
Authors contributed equally to this manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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