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One of the three domains of living organisms: Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota. While Archaea are single-celled, they are unlike bacteria given their independent evolutionary history. Archaea differ from Eukaryota in their ribosomal structure and the presence—in some—of introns in the genome, as well as other features (e.g., different membrane composition).
Archaea are of interest in biotechnology as they have unique biochemical features (e.g., enzymes of theromophiles, such as Taq polymerase, the “workhorse” enzyme of PCR) and are extremely stable at high temperatures. Archaea include metabolic oddities (e.g., extreme halophiles, which live in extremely salty environments), methanogens (which produce methane) and sulphur-dependant extreme thermophiles (which can live in extremely hot environments).
• Thaumarchaeota (recently proposed)