Pan-genome study of Thermococcales reveals extensive genetic diversity and genetic evidence of thermophilic adaption

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3599-3613
Journal / PublicationEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number7
Online published17 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


Thermococcales has a strong adaptability to extreme environments, which is of profound interest in explaining how complex life forms emerge on earth. However, their gene composition, thermal stability and evolution in hyperthermal environments are still little known. Here, we characterized the pan-genome architecture of 30 Thermococcales species to gain insight into their genetic properties, evolutionary patterns and specific metabolisms adapted to niches. We revealed an open pan-genome of Thermococcales comprising 6070 gene families that tend to increase with the availability of additional genomes. The genome contents of Thermococcales were flexible, with a series of genes experienced gene duplication, progressive divergence, or gene gain and loss events exhibiting distinct functional features. These archaea had concise types of heat shock proteins, such as HSP20, HSP60 and prefoldin, which were constrained by strong purifying selection that governed their conservative evolution. Furthermore, purifying selection forced genes involved in enzyme, motility, secretion system, defence system and chaperones to differ in functional constraints and their disparity in the rate of evolution may be related to adaptation to specific niche. These results deepened our understanding of genetic diversity and adaptation patterns of Thermococcales, and provided valuable research models for studying the metabolic traits of early life forms.