The Thermo-Acidophilic Cyanidiophyceae (Cyanidiales)

Chapter

Abstract

Extremophiles are organisms that thrive in environments previously thought inhospitable to life because the physicochemical characteristics fall outside the range tolerated by human cells. These types of environments are usually fatal to most eukaryotes, but have been shown to host a diverse group of prokaryotes that rely on specialized enzymes for survival. Extremophiles are permanently exposed to harsh environmental conditions and are categorized according to their ability to thrive in a specific type of niche. For example, thermophiles grow at temperatures above 50°C, psycrophiles prefer temperatures below 15°C, piezophiles are pressure-lovers, halophiles are found in high salt concentrations, whereas acidophiles and alkaliphiles thrive at an extreme pH of ≤ 3 and ≥ 10, respectively. These taxa are found in hot and cold deserts, hot springs, salt lakes, in sulfide mines, or near deep-sea vents all around the world. It has been speculated that if extraterrestrial life exists, it would be in the form of an extremophile.

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences and the Roy J. Carver Center for Comparative GenomicsUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural ResourcesRutgers UniversityNewarkUSA

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