Introducing Asgard! A new superphylum of archaea that are related to eukaryotes.

Asgard archaea illuminate the origin of eukaryotic cellular complexity

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screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-9-08-08-amThis week our new paper describing the discovery of 4 archaea phyla that are related to eukaryotes was published in Nature. These phyla are belong to the same branch of life and have been named after different Norse gods, Thor, Odin, Heimdall, and Loki.  This is a collaboration with Thijs Ettema’s lab in Sweden. Last year we published the discovery of Thorarchaeota in ISME.

Genomic reconstruction of a novel, deeply branched sediment archaeal phylum with pathways for acetogenesis and sulfur reduction

This paper adds 2 additional phyla, Odinarchaeota and Heimdallarchaeota. The focus of this paper is further resolve the phylogenetic position of eukaryotes in this new superphylum.  It also examines the presence of several new ESPs or eukaryotic signature proteins.  These proteins were mostly thought to exist in eukaryotes, but these genomes contain a variety of them!screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-9-07-09-am

Press releases to accompany this study:

UT press release

The Atlantic article by Ed Yong

Uppsala press release