Because only 0.01% of prokaryotic genospecies can be cultured and in situ observations are often impracticable, culture-independent methods are required to understand microbial life and harness potential applications of microbes. Here, we report a methodology for the production of proteins with desired functions based on single amplified genomes (SAGs) from unculturable species. We use this method to resurrect an alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH/D1) from an uncharacterized halo-thermophilic archaeon collected from a brine pool at the bottom of the Red Sea. Our crystal structure of 5,6-dihydroxy NADPH-bound ADH/D1 combined with biochemical analyses reveal the molecular features of its halo-thermophily, its unique habitat adaptations, and its possible reaction mechanism for atypical oxygen activation. Our strategy offers a general guide for using SAGs as a source for scientific and industrial investigations of ‘microbial dark matter’.