NEW YORK, Oct. 14 (GenomeWeb News) - Diversa of San Diego, along with colleagues at Yale University and Celera Genomics, have published an analysis of the genome sequence and annotation of the smallest genome discovered to date, Nanoarchaeum equitans, which weighs in at under 500 kilobases.
The paper, titled "The genome of Nanoarchaeum equitans: Insights into early archaeal evolution and derived parasitism" will be available at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' website later this week.
N. equitans is a hyperthermophilic archaeon and the only known archaeal parasite, according to Diversa. It was discovered in a submarine hydrothermal vent in the Kolbeinsey ridge, north of Iceland.
Analysis of the tiny genome sequence -- which lacks the genes for central metabolism, primary biosynthesis, and bioenergetic apparatus -- provided insight into the simplest known metabolism required by an organism for survival, according to the research team. In addition, the presence of reverse gyrase enzymes, which are found only in N. equitans and other hyperthermophiles, "indicates that the evolution of these organisms was an early event and supports the hypothesis of a hot primeval earth," Diversa said.
Diversa has retained the rights to commercial applications of the organism. The company said that engineered organisms like N. equitans would have applications as biotransformations, as biosensors, for pharmaceutical synthesis, or for biodefense.