The methanogenic archaea are a group of micro-organisms that have developed a unique metabolic pathway for obtaining energy. There are 150 characterized species in this group; however, novel species continue to be discovered. Since methanogens are considered a crucial part of the carbon cycle in the anaerobic ecosystem, characterization of these micro-organisms is important for understanding anaerobic ecology. A methanogens database (MDB; http://metanogen.biotech.uni.wroc.pl/), including physiological and biochemical characteristics of methanogens, was constructed based on the descriptions of isolated type strains. Analysis of the data revealed that methanogens are able to grow from 0 to 122 °C. Methanogens growing at the same temperature may have very different growth rates. There is no clear correlation between the optimal growth temperature and the DNA G+C content. The following substrate preferences are observed in the database: 74.5 % of archaea species utilize H2+CO2, 33 % utilize methyl compounds and 8.5 % utilize acetate. Utilization of methyl compounds (mainly micro-organisms belonging to the genera Methanosarcina and Methanolobus ) is seldom accompanied by an ability to utilize H2+CO2. Very often, data for described species are incomplete, especially substrate preferences. Additional research leading to completion of missing information and development of standards, especially for substrate utilization, would be very helpful.
Diatoms form an enormous group of photoautotrophic micro-eukaryotes and play a crucial role in marine ecology. In this study, we evaluated typical genes to determine whether they were effective at different levels of diatom clustering analysis to assess the potential of these regions for barcoding taxa. Our test genes included nuclear rRNA genes (the nuclear small-subunit rRNA gene and the 5.8S rRNA gene+ITS-2), a mitochondrial gene (cytochrome c-oxidase subunit 1, COI), a chloroplast gene [ribulose-1,5-biphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase large subunit (rbcL)] and the universal plastid amplicon (UPA). Calculated genetic divergence was highest for the internal transcribed spacer (ITS; 5.8S+ITS-2) (p-distance of 1.569, 85.84 % parsimony-informative sites) and COI (6.084, 82.14 %), followed by the 18S rRNA gene (0.139, 57.69 %), rbcL (0.120, 42.01 %) and UPA (0.050, 14.97 %), which indicated that ITS and COI were highly divergent compared with the other tested genes, and that their nucleotide compositions were variable within the whole group of diatoms. Bayesian inference (BI) analysis showed that the phylogenetic trees generated from each gene clustered diatoms at different phylogenetic levels. The 18S rRNA gene was better than the other genes in clustering higher diatom taxa, and both the 18S rRNA gene and rbcL performed well in clustering some lower taxa. The COI region was able to barcode species of some genera within the Bacillariophyceae. ITS was a potential marker for DNA based-taxonomy and DNA barcoding of Thalassiosirales, while species of Cyclotella, Skeletonema and Stephanodiscus gathered in separate clades, and were paraphyletic with those of Thalassiosira. Finally, UPA was too conserved to serve as a diatom barcode.