Anna-Louise Reysenbach

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 130 pages)


The Nanoarchaeota are an enigmatic lineage of Archaea found in deep-sea hydrothermal vents and geothermal springs across the globe. These small (~100-400 nm) hyperthermophiles live ectosymbiotically with diverse hosts from the Crenarchaeota. Despite their broad distribution in high-temperature environments, very few Nanoarchaeota have been successfully isolated in co-culture with their hosts and nanoarchaeote genomes are poorly represented in public databases. However, the Nanoarchaeota provide unique insights into the structure and function of symbiosis in the archaeal domain. This study describes novel nanoarchaeotes from multiple geothermal habitats, using a combination of direct cultivation techniques and genomic analysis. A new nanoarchaeote from a New Zealand hot spring, Candidatus Nanoclepta minutus, was isolated in co-culture with its host. Like other terrestrial Nanoarchaeota, Cand. Ncl. minutus harbors genes for gluconeogenesis and archaeal flagella. Zestosphaera tikiterensis, the New Zealand host, was also isolated in pure culture and characterized. Phylogenetic analysis showed that both Cand. Ncl. minutus and Z. tikiterensis are new genera in the Nanoarchaeota and Crenarchaeota, respectively. Metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) from the Nanoarchaeota were also recovered from deep-sea hydrothermal vent sites. These MAGs capture a wide range of diversity in the Nanoarchaeota, representing three new species and two novel genera. Key nanoarchaeotal features were identified in the MAGs, including marker genes for archaeal flagella, gluconeogenesis and CRISPR-Cas regions. These studies greatly contribute to our understanding of nanoarchaeotal ecophysiology and provide key insights into the coding potential and diversity of Nanoarchaeota and their hosts.

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Biology Commons