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  1. Twisted stalks are morphologically unique bacterial extracellular organo-metallic structures containing Fe(III) oxyhydroxides that are produced by microaerophilic Fe(II)-oxidizers belonging to the Betaproteobacteria and Zetaproteobacteria. Understanding the underlying genetic and physiological mechanisms of stalk formation is of great interest based on their potential as novel biogenic nanomaterials and their relevance as putative biomarkers for microbial Fe(II) oxidation on ancient Earth. Despite the recognition of these special biominerals for over 150 years, the genetic foundation for the stalk phenotype has remained unresolved. Here we present a candidate gene cluster for the biosynthesis and secretion of the stalk organic matrix that we identifiedmore »with a trait-based analyses of a pan-genome comprising 16 Zetaproteobacteria isolate genomes. The “ s talk f ormation in Z etaproteobacteria” (sfz) cluster comprises six genes ( sfz1-sfz6 ), of which sfz1 and sfz2 were predicted with functions in exopolysaccharide synthesis, regulation, and export, sfz4 and sfz6 with functions in cell wall synthesis manipulation and carbohydrate hydrolysis, and sfz3 and sfz5 with unknown functions. The stalk-forming Betaproteobacteria Ferriphaselus R-1 and OYT-1, as well as dread-forming Zetaproteobacteria Mariprofundus aestuarium CP-5 and Mariprofundus ferrinatatus CP-8 contain distant sfz gene homologs, whereas stalk-less Zetaproteobacteria and Betaproteobacteria lack the entire gene cluster. Our pan-genome analysis further revealed a significant enrichment of clusters of orthologous groups (COGs) across all Zetaproteobacteria isolate genomes that are associated with the regulation of a switch between sessile and motile growth controlled by the intracellular signaling molecule c-di-GMP. Potential interactions between stalk-former unique transcription factor genes, sfz genes, and c-di-GMP point toward a c-di-GMP regulated surface attachment function of stalks during sessile growth.« less
  2. Abstract

    Red mineral pigment use is recognized as a fundamental component of a series of traits associated with human evolutionary development, social interaction, and behavioral complexity. Iron-enriched mineral deposits have been collected and prepared as pigment for use in rock art, personal adornment, and mortuary practices for millennia, yet little is known about early developments in mineral processing techniques in North America. Microanalysis of rock art pigments from the North American Pacific Northwest reveals a sophisticated use of iron oxide produced by the biomineralizing bacteriumLeptothrix ochracea;a keystone species of chemolithotroph recognized in recent advances in the development of thermostable, colorfastmore »biomaterial pigments. Here we show evidence for human engagement with this bacterium, including nanostructural and magnetic properties evident of thermal enhancement, indicating that controlled use of pyrotechnology was a key feature of how biogenic iron oxides were prepared into paint. Our results demonstrate that hunter-gatherers in this area of study prepared pigments by harvesting aquatic microbial iron mats dominated by iron-oxidizing bacteria, which were subsequently heated in large open hearths at a controlled range of 750 °C to 850 °C. This technical gesture was performed to enhance color properties, and increase colorfastness and resistance to degradation. This skilled production of highly thermostable and long-lasting rock art paint represents a specialized technological innovation. Our results contribute to a growing body of knowledge on historical-ecological resource use practices in the Pacific Northwest during the Late Holocene.

    Figshare link to figures:https://figshare.com/s/9392a0081632c20e9484.

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  3. An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.

  4. Abstract

    The assembly of single-amplified genomes (SAGs) and metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) has led to a surge in genome-based discoveries of members affiliated with Archaea and Bacteria, bringing with it a need to develop guidelines for nomenclature of uncultivated microorganisms. The International Code of Nomenclature of Prokaryotes (ICNP) only recognizes cultures as ‘type material’, thereby preventing the naming of uncultivated organisms. In this Consensus Statement, we propose two potential paths to solve this nomenclatural conundrum. One option is the adoption of previously proposed modifications to the ICNP to recognize DNA sequences as acceptable type material; the other option creates a nomenclaturalmore »code for uncultivated Archaea and Bacteria that could eventually be merged with the ICNP in the future. Regardless of the path taken, we believe that action is needed now within the scientific community to develop consistent rules for nomenclature of uncultivated taxa in order to provide clarity and stability, and to effectively communicate microbial diversity.

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