, Volume 94, Issue 2, pp 77-99

First online:

Cold-loving microbes, plants, and animals—fundamental and applied aspects

  • R. MargesinAffiliated withInstitute of Microbiology, Leopold Franzens University Email author 
  • , G. NeunerAffiliated withInstitute of Botany, Leopold Franzens University
  • , K. B. StoreyAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Carleton University

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Microorganisms, plants, and animals have successfully colonized cold environments, which represent the majority of the biosphere on Earth. They have evolved special mechanisms to overcome the life-endangering influence of low temperature and to survive freezing. Cold adaptation includes a complex range of structural and functional adaptations at the level of all cellular constituents, such as membranes, proteins, metabolic activity, and mechanisms to avoid the destructive effect of intracellular ice formation. These strategies offer multiple biotechnological applications of cold-adapted organisms and/or their products in various fields. In this review, we describe the mechanisms of microorganisms, plants, and animals to cope with the cold and the resulting biotechnological perspectives.


Cryoprotectants Cold adaptation Freeze tolerance Supercooling Proteins Membranes Antioxidant defenses Gene expression