In taxonomy, the Korarchaeota are a phylum of the Archaea.[1] The name is derived from the Greek noun koros or kore, meaning young man or young woman, and the Greek adjective archaios which means ancient.[2] They are also known as Xenarchaeota.

Scanning electron micrograph of the Obsidian Pool enrichment culture, showing Korarchaeota.
Scientific classification

Barns et al. 1996
  • Korarchaeota Barns et al. 1996
  • Xenarchaea
  • Xenarchaeota


Korarchaeota is regarded as a phylum, which itself is part of the archaeal TACK superphylum which encompasses Thaumarchaeota, Aigarchaeota, Crenarchaeota and Korarchaeota.[3]


Analysis of their 16S rRNA gene sequences suggests that they are a deeply branching lineage that does not belong to the main archaeal groups, Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota.[4] Analysis of the genome of one korarchaeote that was enriched from a mixed culture revealed a number of both Crenarchaeota- and Euryarchaeota-like features and supports the hypothesis of a deep-branching ancestry.[5]

Reference species

The strain Korarchaeum cryptofilum was cultivated in an enrichment culture from a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park in USA 2008.[5] The cells are long and needleshaped, which gave the species its name, alluding to its "cryptical filaments".


The Korarchaeota have only been found in hydrothermal environments. They appear to have diversified at different phylogenetic levels according to temperature, salinity (freshwater or seawater), and/or geography.[6] Korarchaeota have been found in nature in only low abundance.[6][7][8]


  1. See the NCBI webpage on Korarchaeota. Data extracted from the "NCBI taxonomy resources". National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved 2007-03-19.
  2. Elkins, JG; Podar, M; Graham, DE; et al. (June 2008). "A korarchaeal genome reveals insights into the evolution of the Archaea". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 105 (23): 8102–7. Bibcode:2008PNAS..105.8102E. doi:10.1073/pnas.0801980105. PMC 2430366. PMID 18535141.
  3. Guy L, Ettema TJ (2011). "The archaeal 'TACK' superphylum and the origin of eukaryotes". Trends Microbiol. 19 (12): 580–7. doi:10.1016/j.tim.2011.09.002. PMID 22018741.
  4. Barns SM, Delwiche CF, Palmer JD, Pace NR (August 1996). "Perspectives on archaeal diversity, thermophily and monophyly from environmental rRNA sequences". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 93 (17): 9188–93. Bibcode:1996PNAS...93.9188B. doi:10.1073/pnas.93.17.9188. PMC 38617. PMID 8799176.
  5. Elkins JG, Podar M, Graham DE, Makarova KS, Wolf Y, Randau L, Hedlund BP, Brochier-Armanet C, Kunin V, Anderson I, Lapidus A, Goltsman E, Barry K, Koonin EV, Hugenholtz P, Kyrpides N, Wanner G, Richardson P, Keller M, Stetter KO (July 2008). "A korarchaeal genome reveals insights into the evolution of the Archaea". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 105 (1): 8805–6. Bibcode:2008PNAS..105.8102E. doi:10.1073/pnas.0801980105. PMC 2430366. PMID 18535141.
  6. Auchtung TA, Shyndriayeva G, Cavanaugh CM (2011). "16S rRNA phylogenetic analysis and quantification of Korarchaeota indigenous to the hot springs of Kamchatka, Russia". Extremophiles. 15 (1): 105–116. doi:10.1007/s00792-010-0340-5. PMID 21153671.
  7. Reigstad LJ, Jorgensen SL, Schleper C (2010). "Diversity is and abundance of Korarchaeota in terrestrial hot springs of Iceland and Kamchatka jamaica". ISME J. 4 (3): 346–56. doi:10.1038/ismej.2009.126. PMID 19956276.
  8. Auchtung Thomas A. (2007) Ecology of the hydrothermal candidate archaeal division, Korarchaeota. PhD thesis, Harvard University.

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