Methanogens define the archaeal communities involved in anaerobic digestion. Recently, non-methanogen archaeal populations have been unexpectedly identified in anaerobic digestion processes. To gain insight into the ecophysiology of these uncharacterized archaeal populations, for the first time, a phylogenetic analysis was performed on a collection of non-methanogen archaeal 16S rRNA gene sequences from anaerobic digesters of broad geographic distribution, revealing a distinct clade formed by these sequences in subgroup 6 of the Miscellaneous Crenarchaeotal Group in the newly proposed archaeal phylum Bathyarchaeota. This exclusive phylogenetic assemblage enabled the development of a real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay specifically targeting these non-methanogen archaeal populations in anaerobic digestion. Application of the qPCR assay in continuous anaerobic digesters indicated that these archaeal populations were minor constituents of the archaeal communities, and the abundance of these populations remained relatively constant irrespective of process perturbations. Analysis of the archaeal populations in methanogenic communities further revealed the co-occurrence of these non-methanogen archaea with acetoclastic methanogens. Nevertheless, the low abundance of non-methanogen archaea as compared with acetoclastic methanogens suggests that the non-methanogen archaeal populations were not major players in animal waste-fed methanogenic processes investigated in this study and the functions of these archaeal populations remain to be identified.
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This work was partly supported by the Science Alliance—Tennessee Center of Excellence and a US Environmental Protection Agency Grant SU834318. SC was supported by Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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Chen, S., He, Q. Distinctive non-methanogen archaeal populations in anaerobic digestion. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 100, 419–430 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-015-6951-0
- Miscellaneous Crenarchaeotal Group