Archaeal adaptation to higher temperatures revealed by genomic sequence of Thermoplasma volcanium.
The complete genomic sequence of the archaeon Thermoplasma volcanium, possessing optimum growth temperature (OGT) of 60 degrees C, is reported. By systematically comparing this genomic sequence with the other known genomic sequences of archaea, all possessing higher OGT, a number of strong correlations have been identified between characteristics of genomic organization and the OGT. With increasing OGT, in the genomic DNA, frequency of clustering purines and pyrimidines into separate dinucleotides rises (e.g., by often forming AA and TT, whereas avoiding TA and AT). Proteins coded in a genome are divided into two distinct subpopulations possessing isoelectric points in different ranges (i.e., acidic and basic), and with increasing OGT the size of the basic subpopulation becomes larger. At the metabolic level, genes coding for enzymes mediating pathways for synthesizing some coenzymes, such as heme, start missing. These findings provide insights into the design of individual genomic components, as well as principles for coordinating changes in these designs for the adaptation to new environments.