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    Asgard is a newly proposed archaeal superphylum, which has been suggested to hold the key to decipher the origin of Eukaryotes. However, their ecology remains largely unknown. Here, we conducted a meta-analysis of publicly available Asgard-associated 16S rRNA gene fragments, and found that just three previously proposed clades (Lokiarchaeota, Thorarchaeota, and Asgard clade 4) are widely distributed, whereas the other seven clades (phylum or class level) are restricted to the sediment biosphere. Asgard archaea, especially Loki- and Thorarchaeota, seem to adapt to marine sediments, and water depth (the depth of the sediment below water surface) and salinity might be crucial factors for the proportion of these microorganisms as revealed by multivariate regression analyses. However, the abundance of Asgard archaea exhibited distinct environmental drivers at the clade-level; for instance, the proportion of Asgard clade 4 was higher in less saline environments (salinity <6.35 psu), while higher for Heimdallarchaeota-AAG and Asgard clade 2 in more saline environment (salinity ≥35 psu). Furthermore, co-occurrence analysis allowed us to find a significant non-random association of different Asgard clades with other groups (e.g., Lokiarchaeota with Deltaproteobacteria and Anaerolineae; Odinarchaeota with Bathyarchaeota), suggesting different interaction potentials among these clades. Overall, these findings reveal Asgard archaea as a ubiquitous group worldwide and provide initial insights into their ecological features on a global scale. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


    Mingwei Cai, Tim Richter-Heitmann, Xiuran Yin, Wen-Cong Huang, Yuchun Yang, Cuijing Zhang, Changhai Duan, Jie Pan, Yang Liu, Yue Liu, Michael W Friedrich, Meng Li. Ecological features and global distribution of Asgard archaea. The Science of the total environment. 2021 Mar 01;758:143581

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    PMID: 33223169

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