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Nature Communications

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Phylogenomics, Phylogeny (Botany)


Allopatric speciation has been difficult to examine among microorganisms, with prior reports of endemism restricted to sub-genus level taxa. Previous microbial community analysis via 16S rRNA gene sequencing of 925 geothermal springs from the Taupō Volcanic Zone (TVZ), Aotearoa-New Zealand, revealed widespread distribution and abundance of a single bacterial genus across 686 of these ecosystems (pH 1.2-9.6 and 17.4-99.8 °C). Here, we present evidence to suggest that this genus, Venenivibrio (phylum Aquificota), is endemic to Aotearoa-New Zealand. A specific environmental niche that increases habitat isolation was identified, with maximal read abundance of Venenivibrio occurring at pH 4-6, 50-70 °C, and low oxidation-reduction potentials. This was further highlighted by genomic and culture-based analyses of the only characterised species for the genus, Venenivibrio stagnispumantis CP.B2T, which confirmed a chemolithoautotrophic metabolism dependent on hydrogen oxidation. While similarity between Venenivibrio populations illustrated that dispersal is not limited across the TVZ, extensive amplicon, metagenomic, and phylogenomic analyses of global microbial communities from DNA sequence databases indicates Venenivibrio is geographically restricted to the Aotearoa-New Zealand archipelago. We conclude that geographic isolation, complemented by physicochemical constraints, has resulted in the establishment of an endemic bacterial genus.


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