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Microbial Extremophiles in Aspect of Limits of LifeDuring Earth's evolution accompanied by geophysical and climatic changes a number of ecosystems have been formed. These ecosystems differ by the broad variety of physicochemical and biological factors composing our environment. Traditionally, pH and salinity are considered as geochemical extremes, as opposed to the temperature, pressure and radiation that are referred to as physical extremes (Van den Burg, 2003). Life inhabits all possible places on Earth interacting with the environment and within itself (cross species relations). In nature it is very rare when an ecotope is inhabited by a single species. As a rule, most ecosystems contain the functionally related and evolutionarily adjusted communities (consortia and populations). In contrast to the multicellular structure of eukaryotes (tissues, organs, systems of organs, whole organism), the highest organized form of prokaryotic life in nature is the benthic colonization in biofilms and microbial mats. In these complex structures all microbial cells of different species are distributed in space and time according to their functions and to physicochemical gradients that allow more effective system support, self-protection, and energy distribution. In vitro, of course, the most primitive organized structure for bacterial and archaeal cultures is the colony, the size, shape, color, consistency, and other characteristics of which could carry varies specifics on species or subspecies levels. In table 1 all known types of microbial communities are shown (Pikuta et a]., 2005). In deep underground (lithospheric) and deep-sea ecosystems an additional factor - pressure, and irradiation - could also be included in the list of microbial communities. Currently the beststudied ecosystems are: human body (due to the medical importance), and fresh water and marine ecosystems (due to the reason of an environmental safety). For a long time, extremophiles were terra incognita, since the environments with aggressive parameters (compared to the human body temperature, pH, mineralization, and pressure) were considered a priori as a dead zone.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Pikuta, Elena V. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Hoover, Richard B. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Tang, Jane (Noblis Falls Church, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2007
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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