Rxivist logo

Bridging the divide: bacteria synthesizing archaeal membrane lipids

By Laura Villanueva, F.A. Bastiaan von Meijenfeldt, Alexander B. Westbye, Ellen C. Hopmans, Bas E. Dutilh, Jaap S. Sinninghe Damsté

Posted 19 Oct 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/448035

Archaea synthesize membranes of isoprenoid lipids that are ether-linked to glycerol, while Bacteria/Eukarya produce membranes consisting of ester-bound fatty acids. This dichotomy in membrane lipid composition or 'lipid divide' is believed to have arisen after the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA). A leading hypothesis is that LUCA possessed a 'mixed heterochiral archaeal/bacterial membrane', however no natural microbial representatives supporting this scenario have been shown to exist today. Here, we demonstrate that bacteria of the Fibrobacteres-Chlorobi-Bacteroidetes (FCB) group superphylum and related candidate phyla encode a complete pathway for archaeal membrane lipid biosynthesis in addition to the bacterial fatty acid membrane pathway. Key genes were expressed in the environment and their recombinant expression in E. coli resulted in the formation of a 'mixed archaeal/bacterial membrane'. Our results support the existence of 'mixed membranes' in natural environments and their stability over large evolutionary timescales, thereby bridging a once-thought fundamental divide in biology.

Download data

  • Downloaded 1,560 times
  • Download rankings, all-time:
    • Site-wide: 8,734 out of 117,931
    • In evolutionary biology: 302 out of 6,171
  • Year to date:
    • Site-wide: 22,043 out of 117,931
  • Since beginning of last month:
    • Site-wide: 35,804 out of 117,931

Altmetric data


Downloads over time

Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide


PanLingua

Sign up for the Rxivist weekly newsletter! (Click here for more details.)


News