Genomic diversity, lifestyles and evolutionary origins of DPANN archaea

Nina Dombrowski, Jun-Hoe Lee, Tom Williams, Pierre Offre, Anja Spang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
305 Downloads (Pure)


Archaea—a primary domain of life besides Bacteria—have for a long time been regarded as peculiar organisms that play marginal roles in biogeochemical cycles. However, this picture changed with the discovery of a large diversity of archaea in non-extreme environments enabled by the use of cultivation-independent methods. These approaches have allowed the reconstruction of genomes of uncultivated microorganisms and revealed that archaea are diverse and broadly distributed in the biosphere and seemingly include a large diversity of putative symbiotic organisms, most of which belong to the tentative archaeal superphylum referred to as DPANN. This archaeal group encompasses at least 10 different lineages and includes organisms with extremely small cell and genome sizes and limited metabolic capabilities. Therefore, many members of DPANN may be obligately dependent on symbiotic interactions with other organisms and may even include novel parasites. In this contribution, we review the current knowledge of the gene repertoires and lifestyles of members of this group and discuss their placement in the tree of life, which is the basis for our understanding of the deep microbial roots and the role of symbiosis in the evolution of life on Earth.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfnz008
Number of pages12
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number2
Early online date7 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2019


  • Archaea
  • Evolution
  • Genomics
  • Metabolism
  • Symbiosis


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