Extremophiles

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Extremophiles are organisms with the ability to thrive in extreme conditions (from a human perspective) such as: deep ocean hydrothermal vents[1].

They are mostly prokaryotic.

Extremophiles can be divided into sub-groups relating to environmental conditions in which they grow optimally[2]:

acidophilic optimal growth in acidic conditions (pH 1-5)
alkaliphilic optimal growth alkaline conditions (pH>9)
halophilic environments with high salt concentration
thermophilic optimal growth between 60-80 degrees celsius
hyperthermophilic optimal growth above 80 degrees celsius
psychrophilic optimal growth at 15 degrees celsius or lower
piezophilic/barophilic optimal growth highhydrostatic pressure
xerophilic growth in dry conditions with low water availabilty
oligotrophic growth in nutritionally limited environments
endolithic

growth in rocks or pores in mineral grains

Some extremophiles have multiple adoptions. e.g. thermoacidophiles[3].

Future advances

Extremophiles have extremozymes which are the enzymes that enable the organism to live in harsh conditions. This could influence: genetically based medications and industrial chemicals and processes[4].

References

  1. NOAA 10/10/17 https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/extremophile.html
  2. https://www.britannica.com/science/extremophile
  3. Life in hot acid: Pathway analyses in extremely thermoacidophilic archaea Kathryne S. Auernik, Charlotte R. Cooper, and Robert M. Kelly* Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2008 Oct; 19(5): 445–453. Published online 2008 Sep 11.
  4. NOAA 10/10/17 https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/extremophile.html
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