Acetate and acetyl-CoA play fundamental roles in all of biology, including anaerobic prokaryotes from the domains Bacteria
, which compose an estimated quarter of all living protoplasm in Earth’s biosphere. Anaerobes from the domain Archaea
contribute to the global carbon cycle by metabolizing acetate as a growth substrate or product. They are components of anaerobic microbial food chains converting complex organic matter to methane, and many fix CO2
into cell material via synthesis of acetyl-CoA. They are found in a diversity of ecological habitats ranging from the digestive tracts of insects to deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and synthesize a plethora of novel enzymes with biotechnological potential. Ecological investigations suggest that still more acetate-metabolizing species with novel properties await discovery.
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