Fishing for biodiversity: Novel methanopterin-linked C1 transfer genes deduced from the
Sargasso Sea metagenome
The recently generated database of microbial genes from an oligotrophic environment populated by a calculated 1,800 of major phylotypes (the Sargasso Sea metagenome) presents a great source for expanding local databases of genes indicative of a specific function. In this paper we analyze the Sargasso Sea metagenome in terms of the presence of methanopterin-linked C1 transfer genes that are signature for methylotrophy. We conclude that more than 10 phylotypes possessing genes of interest are present in this environment, and a few of these are relatively abundant species. The sequences representative of the major phylotypes do not appear to belong to any known microbial group capable of methanopterin-linked C1 transfer. Instead, they separate from all known sequences on phylogenetic trees, pointing towards their affiliation with a novel microbial phylum. These data imply a broader distribution of methanopterin-linked functions in the microbial world than previously known.