Danish researchers from Center for Geomicrobiology reveal how some of the world’s most abundant organisms play a key role in carbon cycling in the seabed

An international team of researchers led by the Center for Geomicrobiology, Aarhus University, has nevertheless succeeded in retrieving four archaeal cells from seabed mud and mapping the genome of each one.

Until now, nobody knew how these widespread mud-dwelling archaea actually live. Mapping the genome from the four archaeal cells shows they all have genes that enable them to live on protein degradation.

“At present, we can’t culture these archaea or store them in the laboratory, so this rules out the physiological tests usually carried out by the microbiologists. We’ve therefore worked with cell extraction, cell sorting, and subsequent mapping of the individual cell’s combined genetic information – that’s to say its genome. This is a new approach that can reveal both a cell’s identity and its lifestyle,” says Professor of Microbiology Andreas Schramm, affiliated with the Center for Geomicrobiology.

The method opens up a new world of knowledge for microbiologists, who can now study an individual microorganism just as zoologists study an individual mouse.

Read the full coverage at the center’s website