Biosynthetic capacity, metabolic variety and unusual biology in the CPR and DPANN radiations

Cindy J. Castelle, Christopher T. Brown, Karthik Anantharaman, Alexander J. Probst, Raven H. Huang, Jillian F. Banfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Candidate phyla radiation (CPR) bacteria and DPANN (an acronym of the names of the first included phyla) archaea are massive radiations of organisms that are widely distributed across Earth’s environments, yet we know little about them. Initial indications are that they are consistently distinct from essentially all other bacteria and archaea owing to their small cell and genome sizes, limited metabolic capacities and often episymbiotic associations with other bacteria and archaea. In this Analysis, we investigate their biology and variations in metabolic capacities by analysis of approximately 1,000 genomes reconstructed from several metagenomics-based studies. We find that they are not monolithic in terms of metabolism but rather harbour a diversity of capacities consistent with a range of lifestyles and degrees of dependence on other organisms. Notably, however, certain CPR and DPANN groups seem to have exceedingly minimal biosynthetic capacities, whereas others could potentially be free living. Understanding of these microorganisms is important from the perspective of evolutionary studies and because their interactions with other organisms are likely to shape natural microbiome function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-645
Number of pages17
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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