AFSHEEN AMAN, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Industrial Biotechnology Section Dr. A.Q. Khan Institute of Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering (KIBGE) University of Karachi

Course # KIBGE-707

What are Extremophiles?
An extremophile (from Latin extremus meaning "extreme" and Greek phili meaning "love") is an organism that thrives in and even may require physically or geochemically extreme conditions that are detrimental to the majority of life on Earth.

Extreme environment once thought to be too hostile to permit the survival of living organisms, are the natural habitat of certain microorganisms known as µextremophiles¶. The microorganisms that have the ability to resist or withstand extreme environmental conditions. 1980s and 1990s, biologists found that microbial life has an amazing flexibility for surviving in extreme environments



Extremophiles can survive in:
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Cold of the Arctic and Antarctic Volcanic vents on land Ocean floor Very dry (hot/cold) places Hot volcanic vents of the deep ocean Rocks, deep inside the Earth Severe chemical environments harmful to most life-forms High-radiation environments, such as on the control rods of nuclear power plants

Extremophiles can be classified according to the environment in which they survive.

Categories of Extremophiles
Acidophile An organism with an optimum pH level at or below pH 3 eg: Picrophilus oshimae (Archaea) (Opt.:0.7) Habitat: Acidic hot springs, acidic fields and acidic sulfur pyrite areas. Alkaliphile An organism with optimal growth at pH levels of 9 or above eg: Natronobacterium gregoryi (Archaea) (Opt.:10) Habitat: Alkaline hot springs, carbonate springs, alkaline soils, and soda lakes.

Thermophile An organism that can thrive at temperatures between 60-80°C Hyperthermophile An organism that can thrive at temperatures between 80±122°C eg: Pyrolobus fumarii (Archaea) (Opt.:106°C) Habitat: Hot, under sea hydrothermal vents Halophile An organism requiring at least 0.2M concentrations of salt (NaCl) for growth eg: Halobacterium salinarum (Archaea) (Opt.: 25 %) Habitat: highly saline lakes or Salterns

Psychrophile/Cryophile An organism that grows better at temperatures of 15°C or lower; common in eg: Polaromonas vacuolata (Bacteria) (Opt.: 4°C) Habitat: Sea-ice, cold soils, permafrost, polar ice, cold ocean water, and in or under alpine snowpack Xerophile An organism that can grow in extremely dry, desiccating conditions.

Barophlies An organism that lives optimally at high hydrostatic pressure; common in the deep terrestrial subsurface, as well as in oceanic trenches eg: MT41 Mariana Trench-41 (Bacteria) (Opt.: 700 atm) Habitat: Deep ocean sediments Metalotolerant capable of tolerating high levels of dissolved heavy metals in solution, such as copper, cadmium, arsenic, and zinc eg: Ferroplasma sp. and Ralstonia metallidurans

Endolith An organism that lives in microscopic spaces within rocks, such as pores between aggregate grains; these may also be called cryptoendoliths. Hypolith An organism that lives inside rocks in cold deserts. Oligotroph An organism capable of growth in nutritionally limited environments.

Osmophile An organism capable of growth in environments with a high sugar concentration. Polyextremophile An organism that qualifies as an extremophile under more than one category. Radioresistant Organisms resistant to high levels of ionizing radiation, most commonly ultraviolet radiation, but also including organisms capable of resisting nuclear radiation.

Genetic Adaptations: Key To Extreme Microbe's Survival In Challenging Environment
Microorganisms can thrive at these extreme conditions must adapt to fluctuations in temperature and oxygen levels eg: Nautilia profundicola € Survives near deep-sea hydrothermal vents. € Genome analysis with physiological and ecological observations it was found that a gene, called rgy, allows the bacterium to manufacture a protein called reverse gyrase when it encounters extremely hot fluids from the earth's interior.

Cold Environment: Cold-loving organisms have started to interest manufacturers for the development of : € Enzymes that work at refrigerator temperatures. € Food processing companies whose products often require cold temperatures to avoid spoilage € Producers of fragrances that evaporate at high temperatures € Manufacturers of cold-wash laundry detergents

Acidic Environments:
Potential applications of acid-tolerant extremozymes range from catalysts for the synthesis of compounds in an acidic solution to additives for animal feed, which are intended to work in the stomachs of animals. These enzymes improve the digestibility of inexpensive grains

Environments Alkaliphiles, just like acidophiles, maintain neutral pH in their interior, and their extremozymes are located on or near the cell surface and in external secretions. This feature makes alkaliphiles suitable for producing detergents.


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