Template:Automatic taxobox/floating intro

Archaea (Archaebacteria)
Temporal range: Template:Long fossil range Paleoarchean or perhaps Eoarchean – recent
Halobacterium sp. strain NRC-1,
each cell about 5 μm long
Scientific classification Template:Edit taxonomy
Binomial name
Template:Automatic taxobox/is species
Kingdoms[3] and phyla[4]
  • Archaebacteria Woese & Fox, 1977
  • Mendosicutes Gibbons & Murray, 1978
  • Metabacteria Hori and Osawa 1979

The Archaea (or Archea) are a group of single-celled organisms. The name comes from Greek αρχαία, "old ones". They are a major division of living organisms.

Archaea are tiny, simple organisms. They were originally discovered in extreme environments (extremophiles), but are now thought to be common to more average conditions. Many can survive at very high (over 80 °C) or very low temperatures, or highly salty, acidic or alkaline water. Some have been found in geysers, black smokers, oil wells, and hot vents in the deep ocean. Recent research has found ammonia-eating archaea in soil and seawater.

In the past they had been classed with bacteria as prokaryotes (or Kingdom Monera) and named archaebacteria, but this is a mistake.[5] The Archaea have an independent evolutionary history and show many differences in their biochemistry from other forms of life. They are now classified as a separate domain in the three-domain system. In this system, the three distinct branches of evolutionary descent are the Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota.

Archaea are, like bacteria, prokaryotes: single-celled organisms that do not have nuclei and cell organelles of the eukaryote type.

Comparison to other domains

The following table compares some major characteristics of the three domains, to illustrate their similarities and differences.[6] Many of these characteristics are also discussed below.

Property Archaea Bacteria Eukarya
Cell membrane Ether-linked lipids, pseudopeptidoglycan Ester-linked lipids, peptidoglycan Ester-linked lipids, various structures
Gene structure Circular chromosomes, similar translation and transcription to Eukarya Circular chromosomes, unique translation and transcription Multiple, linear chromosomes, similar translation and transcription to Archaea
Internal cell structure No membrane-bound organelles (but questioned:[7]) or nucleus No membrane-bound organelles or nucleus Membrane-bound organelles and nucleus
Metabolism[8] Various, with methanogenesis unique to Archaea Various, including photosynthesis, aerobic and anaerobic respiration, fermentation, and autotrophy Photosynthesis, cellular respiration and fermentation
Reproduction Asexual reproduction, horizontal gene transfer Asexual reproduction, horizontal gene transfer Sexual and asexual reproduction

Interesting facts

Interesting facts about archaea:[9][10][11]

Related pages

Further reading

  • Barry E.R. & Bell S.D. 2006. DNA replication in the Archaea. Microbiology and molecular biology reviews (MMBR) '70, 876-887.
  • Kelman L.M. & Kelman Z. 2003. Archaea: An archetype for replication initiation studies? Molecular microbiology, 48, 605-615.

Other websites


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Taxa above the rank of class". List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  2. Cavalier-Smith, T. (2014). "The neomuran revolution and phagotrophic origin of eukaryotes and cilia in the light of intracellular coevolution and a revised tree of life". Cold Spring Harb. Perspect. Biol. 6 (9). doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a016006. PMID 25183828. 
  3. Petitjean C, Deschamps P, López-García P, Moreira D (December 2014). "Rooting the domain archaea by phylogenomic analysis supports the foundation of the new kingdom Proteoarchaeota". Genome Biology and Evolution 7 (1): 191–204. doi:10.1093/gbe/evu274. PMC 4316627. PMID 25527841. 
  4. NCBI taxonomy page on Archaea. 
  5. Pace NR (May 2006). "Time for a change". Nature 441 (7091): 289. doi:10.1038/441289a. PMID 16710401. 
  6. Information is from Willey JM, Sherwood LM, Woolverton CJ. Microbiology 7th ed. (2008), Ch. 19 pp. 474–475, except where noted.
  7. Thomas Heimerl1 et al (13 June 2017). "A Complex endomembrane system in the Archaeon Ignicoccus hospitalis tapped by Nanoarchaeum equitans". Frontiers in Microbiology. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.01072. 
  8. Template:Cite book
  9. Template:Cite book
  10. Template:Cite book
  11. Template:Cite book
  12. Schäfer G. et al 1999. Bioenergetics of the Archaea. Microbiol. Mol. Biol. Rev. 63 (3): 570–620. PMID 10477309.
  13. de Queiroz K (2005). "Ernst Mayr and the modern concept of species". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 102 (Suppl 1): 6600–7. doi:10.1073/pnas.0502030102. PMC 1131873. PMID 15851674. 
  14. Eppley JM, Tyson GW, Getz WM, Banfield JF (2007). "Genetic exchange across a species boundary in the archaeal genus ferroplasma". Genetics 177 (1): 407–16. doi:10.1534/genetics.107.072892. PMC 2013692. PMID 17603112. 
  15. Papke RT, Zhaxybayeva O, Feil EJ, Sommerfeld K, Muise D, Doolittle WF (2007). "Searching for species in haloarchaea". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 104 (35): 14092–7. doi:10.1073/pnas.0706358104. PMC 1955782. PMID 17715057. 
  16. DeLong EF, Pace NR (2001). "Environmental diversity of bacteria and archaea". Syst. Biol. 50 (4): 470–8. PMID 12116647.  Full text: [1]