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Editorial Current Biotechnology, 2013, Volume 2, No.

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Biotechnological Applications of Extremophiles
Over the last decades, the study of extremophiles has provided ground breaking discoveries that challenge our understanding of
biochemistry and molecular biology. Although the molecular strategies developed for survival in extreme environments are still
not fully clarified, it is known that these microorganisms have adapted molecules, as well as different and peculiar biochemical
pathways, which are of great interest for biotechnological purposes. The diversity of environments to which different
extremophiles have adapted offers many exciting opportunities to a variety of industrial, environmental, biomedical and
pharmaceutical applications. The stability and activity of extremozymes and extremolytes under extreme temperature, salinity,
pH, and solvent conditions make them useful alternatives to conventional biotech processes which use mesophilic
biomolecules. Indeed, the application of extremophiles and their biologically active compounds has opened a new era in
biotechnology. Furthermore, innovative culturing approaches and the recent advent of high throughput next generation
sequencing methods have provided new opportunities for the biotechnological exploration of extremophiles. In this special
issue and in the complementary issue Extremophiles and Biotechnology (next edition), leading scientists in the field will
present the most recent and novel applications of extremophiles in different areas of biotechnology.
In the first manuscript of this issue, Schreck et al. (2013) described the characterization of a hydrolase (50% identical to E. coli
thioesterase, TesA) from the halophilic organism Chromohalobacter salexigens [1]. The results show that this enzyme holds
promising potential in alga metabolic engineering and other applications. Mientus et al. (2013) reported the identification of
two lignocellulose degrading enzymes (a thermophilic GH10 xylanase Xyn 10K and a thermophilic GH5 cellulase) with
superior thermostability using functional-based screening of a metagenomic fosmid library derived from a naturally heated
(67C) and alkaline (pH 9-9.3) soil sample [2]. Beyond the potential biotechnological applications of these enzymes, the
manuscript represents a good example on using metagenomic approach on discovering genetic resources from uncultured
microbes in extreme environment. Benvegnu et al. (2013) summarized the applications of archaeal lipids as nanocarriers for
oral delivery of peptides and vaccine [3]. Additionally, the authors discussed the use of archaeal lipids as bio-enhancers.
Hidalgo and Berenguer (2013) reviewed the current genetic tools for Thermus thermophilus as a host for the selection and
production of thermostable proteins [4]. Plasmids, thermostable resistances to antibiotics, reporters, and available promoters are
reviewed that can be used for protein expression at high temperatures. Maurelli and Morana (2013) presented the state of the art
in the field of hyperthermophilic enzymes and their potential biotechnological applications [5]. The paper gives contribution to
increase our knowledge on starch-, cellulose-, xylan-degrading enzymes, lipases and esterases, enzymes that found applications
in many industrial sectors. Dhanjoon et al. (2013) described the isolation and some preliminary characterizations of a xylanase
from Thermotoga hypogea [6]. The properties of this enzyme indicate its potential applications for certain industrial processes.
Munawar and Engel (2013) presented a comprehensive review on the physicochemical characteristics and biotechnological
potential of halophilic enzymes [7]. Kivist et al. (2013) discussed the fermentative biohydrogen production by extremophilic
microorganisms with emphasis on advantages, current challenges, production efficiencies, economical substrates and process
design [8]. The authors provide a thorough summary of the data from thermophiles and hyperthermophiles, halophiles,
acidophiles, and alkaliphiles as well as the potential drawbacks of these groups of organisms. Bosma et al. (2013) highlighted
the advantages of the utilization of extremophiles, mainly belonging to the phylum Firmicutes, for the production of several
green chemicals (e.g. lactic acid, 2,3-butanediol and polyhydroxyalkanoates) [9]. Additionally, the isolation of several
polysaccharide-degrading extremophiles is described and the genetic tools developed for biotechnologically relevant
extremophiles are discussed. In the last paper, Kumar et al. (2013) provided an overview on the production and
biotechnological applications of bacterial xylanases with special reference to thermo-alkali-stable xylanases [10]. Reflecting the
broad coverage of the journal, the 10 papers published in this issue cover diverse biotech topics related to a wide range of
[1] Schreck S, Killens-Cade RR, Grunden AM. Characterization of Halophilic Acyl-CoA Thioesterase from Chromohalo-bacter salexigens for Use in
Biofuel Production. Curr Biotechnol 2013; 2(4): 275-83.
[2] Mientus M, Brady S, Angelov A, Zimmermann P, Wenheuer B, Schuldes J, Daniel R, Liebl W. Thermostable Xylanase and B-Glucanase Derived
from the Metagenome of the Avachinsky Crater in Kamchatka (Russia). Curr Biotechnol 2013; 2(4): 284-93.
[3] Benvegnu T, Lemigre L, Dalenon S, Jefti J. Applications of Extremophilic Archaeal Lipids in the Field of Nanocarriers for Oral/Topical Drug
Delivery. Curr Biotechnol 2013; 2(4): 294-303.
[4] Hidalgo A, Berenguer J. Biotechnological Applications of Thermus thermophilus as Host. Curr Biotechnol 2013; 2(4): 304-12.
[5] Maurelli L, Morana A. Hyperthermophilic Enzymes: Their Potential in Biotechnology. Curr Biotechnol 2013; 2(4): 313-24.
274 Current Biotechnology, 2013, Volume 2, No. 4 Editorial
[6] Dhanjoon J, Ying X, Salma F, Ma K. Characterization of a Thermostable Xylanase from the Extremely Thermophilic Bacterium Thermotoga
hypogeal. Curr Biotechnol 2013; 2(4): 325-33.
[7] Munawar N, Engel PC. Halophilic Enzymes: Characteristics, Structural Adaptation and Potential Applications for Biocatalysis. Curr Biotechnol 2013;
2(4): 334-44.
[8] Kivist AT, Ciranna A, Santala VP, Karp MT. Extremophilic Microbes in Biohydrogen Production. Curr Biotechnol 2013; 2(4): 345-59.
[9] Bosma EF, van der Oost J, de Vos WM, van Kranenburg R. Sustainable Production of Bio-Based Chemicals by Extremophiles. Curr Biotechnol 2013;
2(4): 360-79.
[10] Kumar V, Verma D, Satyanarayana T. Extremophilic Bacterial Xylanases: Production, Characteristics and Applications. Curr Biotechnol 2013; 2(4):

Pabulo Henrique Rampelotto
(Guest Editor)
Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research
Federal University of Pampa
So Gabriel, RS