The essence of being extremophilic: the role of the unique archaeal membrane lipids
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- van de Vossenberg, J., Driessen, A. & Konings, W. Extremophiles (1998) 2: 163. doi:10.1007/s007920050056
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In extreme environments, mainly Archaea are encountered. The archaeal cytoplasmic membrane contains unique ether lipids that cannot easily be degraded, are temperature- and mechanically resistant, and highly salt tolerant. Moreover, thermophilic and extreme acidophilic Archaea possess membrane-spanning tetraether lipids that form a rigid monolayer membrane which is nearly impermeable to ions and protons. These properties make the archaeal lipid membranes more suitable for life and survival in extreme environments than the ester-type bilayer lipids of Bacteria or Eukarya.