Caister Academic Press

Extremophiles: Microbiology and Biotechnology

"highlights current areas of research" (IFIS)
"a good overview" (Biospektrum)
"recommended" (Micro. Today)
"essential reading" (Fungal Diversity)
Publisher: Caister Academic Press
Edited by: Roberto Paul Anitori
Oregon Health and Science University, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
Pages: xiv + 300
Publication date: January 2012
ISBN: 978-1-904455-98-1
Price: GB £219 or US $319Buy book or Buy online
Publication date: January 2012
ISBN: 978-1-912530-54-0
Price: US $319Buy ebook

The vast majority of extremophiles are microbes, mainly archaea and bacteria but also some eukaryotes. These microbes live under chemical and physical extremes that are usually lethal to cellular molecules, yet they manage to survive and even thrive. Extremophiles have important practical uses. They are a valuable source of industrially important enzymes and recent research has revealed novel mechanisms and biomolecular structures with a broad range of potential applications in biotechnology, biomining and bioremediation. It is likely that biotechnology has only scratched the surface in its search for new organisms of practical use.

This book highlights the current and topical areas of research in this rapidly growing field. Expert authors from around the world provide the latest insights into the mechanisms these fascinating organisms use to survive. The topics covered include the ability of acidophiles to maintain a neutral intracellular pH, the way that psychrophiles 'loosen up' their proteins at low temperatures, and other equally ingenious adaptations and metabolic strategies that extremophiles use to survive and flourish under extreme conditions. The book also covers the established biotechnological uses of extremophiles and the most recent and novel applications including the exploitation of these organisms for enzyme production, their potential use in the generation of sustainable energy and in the oil industry.

Aimed at research scientists, students, microbiologists and biotechnologists this book is essential reading for scientists working with extremophiles and a recommended reference text for anyone interested in the microbiology of these organisms, as well as bioprospecting, biomining, biofuels and extremozymes.


"highlights current areas of research" from IFIS

"a solid and critical review of the impact that extremophiles have in biotechnology. It discusses the adaptation of thermophilic, psychrophilic, acidophilic, and radiation-resistant microorganisms in their respective habitats ... the book offers newcomers to the biotechnology industry a good overview and a simple introduction to the subject, above all on future trends and web sources. " from BIOspektrum (2012) 18: 224.

"This book collects the work of renowned researchers to provide chapters outlining the mechanisms Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya use to survive extremes of temperature, pH, pressure and ionizing radiation. It focuses strongly on commercial applications ... recommended for senior undergraduates' independent reading or the reference of workers in the field alike" from Microbiology Today (2012)

"topical book ... essential reading ... recommended reference text ... should be available in all university libraries" from Fungal Diversity (2013) 59: 179-197.

Table of contents
1. Extremophiles and Biotechnology: How Far Have We Come?
Mark Paul Taylor, Lonnie Van Zyl, Marla Tuffin and Don Cowan
In principle, extremophiles have much to offer the biotechnology industry, from robust, process hardy enzymes to metabolically and physiologically diverse whole cell biocatalysts. However, the penetration of extremophilic organisms and their products into biotechnology markets has been modest at best, with preference given to engineered, cost effective enzyme variants and organisms for which established genetic tools are widely available. Interest in 'xtreme' products has often been dissuaded due to the unattractive need for the sometimes costly and complicated cultivation equipment and the complexities of culture maintenance. The lack of suitable genetic tools by which to improve, adapt or engineer a process involving an extremophilic host further complicates the issue. Legislative controls over national biological resources and allegations of biopiracy have also retarded commercialisation and industry-academia collaborations. However, commercial success stories have been described and form part of this review. Future prospects are optimistic, as several new biotechnology companies involved in the production of biomolecules from renewable resources have based their platform technology on extremophiles.
2. Ionizing Radiation Resistant Microorganisms
Kelley R. Gwin and John R. Battista
Of all the phenotypes associated with microorganisms, ionizing radiation resistance - the ability to survive exposure to high dose gamma radiation - is perhaps the most difficult to rationalize in terms of the natural world. There is no obvious selective advantage to being ionizing radiation resistant on Earth, as average yearly exposures to ionizing radiation from cosmic rays and radioactive decay are extremely low. Yet a significant number of genera exhibit this characteristic, displaying a remarkable capacity to tolerate levels of damage to cellular macromolecules that eradicates other forms of life. We argue that ionizing radiation resistance is an incidental characteristic, an inadvertent consequence of an evolutionary path that permitted these species to survive a selective pressure capable of damaging the cell in a manner similar to that of ionizing radiation. The phylogenetic distribution of ionizing radiation resistant species argues that these events occurred multiple times during the evolution of the Bacteria and Archaea, suggesting that different mechanisms may mediate ionizing radiation resistance.
3. Psychrophiles: Life in the Cold
Corien Bakermans
Psychrophilic, or cold-loving, organisms actively live at low temperatures. Psychrophily is not an uncommon trait; cold-adapted organisms are found throughout the three domains of life and successfully inhabit a wide variety of low temperature environments. The ongoing investigation of these environments continues to broaden our view of what is possible for life on Earth. Cold-adapted microorganisms have evolved mechanisms to deal with the thermodynamic constraints of low temperatures. To combat the stability and decreased flexibility of macromolecules, psychrophiles generally increase the disorder within macromolecules to maintain fluidity or flexibility and hence function at low temperatures. To contend with reduced water activity and the presence of ice crystals, cryoprotectants are produced. To counteract decreased reaction and diffusion rates, psychrophiles practice efficient growth. Currently, the functional low-temperature limits of psychrophiles are minus 12 degrees celsius for reproduction and minus 20 degrees celsius for metabolism. The availability of liquid water appears to be the major growth-limiting factor at subzero temperatures. Examination of molecular and physiological adaptations to low temperatures is increasing our comprehension and appreciation of the capabilities of psychrophiles and their contribution to nutrient cycling in low temperature environments.
4. SM1: a Cold-loving Archaeon with Powerful Nano-grappling Hooks
Christine Moissl-Eichinger, Ruth Henneberger and Robert Huber
The SM1 euryarchaeon represents an extraordinary microorganism: in the surface waters of cold, sulfidic springs, it lives together with filamentous bacteria, forming the so called string-of-pearls community. In the subsurface however, it can grow partner-independently as a "monospecies" biofilm. Even though the SM1 euryarchaeon is still uncultivated in the laboratory, it is accessible via an in situ cultivation technique using its own biotope as a natural chemostat. This approach allowed the study of its biology, and enabled the discovery of unique cell surface appendices with unexpected and unusually high complexity. Each of the archaeal cells is surrounded by approximately 100 protein filaments that are up to 3 micrometres long and show a high resemblance to barbwire with a tripartite grappling hook at their tip. Based on this structure the appendices were called "hami" (lat. hamus = (grappling) hook). These hami represent perfectly evolved, natural mechanical nano-tools that could find applications in the growing field of nanobiotechnology.
5. Enzyme Activities and Biotechnological Applications of Cold-active Microfungi
Helena Nevalainen, Ron Bradner, Sania Wadud, Suja Mohammed, Christopher McRae and Junior Te'o
Fungi are eukaryotic organisms and considered to be less adaptable to extreme environments when compared to bacteria. While there are no thermophilic microfungi in a strict sense, some fungi have adapted to life in the cold. Cold-active microfungi have been isolated from the Antarctic and their enzyme activities explored with a view to finding new candidates for industrial use. On another front, environmental pollution by petroleum products in the Antarctic has led to a search for, and the subsequent discovery of, fungal isolates capable of degrading hydrocarbons. The work has paved the way to developing a bioremedial approach to containing this type of contamination in cold climates. Here we discuss our efforts to map the capability of Antarctic microfungi to degrade oil and also introduce a novel cold-active fungal lipase enzyme.
6. Metabolic Diversity of Thermophilic Prokaryotes: What's New?
Elizaveta Bonch-Osmolovskaya
Thermophilic microorganisms, though known since the beginning of the 20th century, were intensively studied in its last three decades. Natural terrestrial and submarine thermal environments were found to be populated by moderate, extreme and hyperthermophilic microorganisms representing diverse metabolic groups. However, during the past few years this knowledge has been extended, and new metabolic groups of thermophilic prokaryotes described. Among these are ammonia-oxidizing archaea, thermoacidophilic methanotrophs of the phylum Verrucomicrobia, microorganisms gaining energy for growth from the disproportionation of sulfur species, and archaea and bacteria metabolizing one carbon (C1) compounds. Other novel metabolic groups, such as thermophilic anammox bacteria, nitrite-oxidizing thermophiles, and microorganisms performing anaerobic methane oxidation in thermal ecosystems, have been detected using molecular or geochemical approaches. These data will, certainly, stimulate further cultivation and isolation efforts.
7. Cellulolytic Microorganisms from Thermal Environments
T.A. Vishnivetskaya, B. Raman, T.J. Phelps, M. Podar and J.G. Elkins
Conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to liquid fuels using biological processes offers a potential solution to partially offset the world's dependence on fossil fuels for energy. In nature, decomposition of organic plant biomass is brought about by the combined action of several interacting microorganisms existing in complex communities. Bioprospecting in natural environments with high cellulolytic activity (for example, thermal springs) may yield novel cellulolytic microorganisms and enzymes with elevated rates of biomass hydrolysis for use in industrial biofuel production. In this chapter, various cellulose-degrading microorganisms (in particular, thermophilic anaerobic bacteria), their hydrolytic enzymes, and recent developments in the application of biomass fermentations for production of sustainable bioenergy are reviewed. In this context, results from ongoing research at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the isolation and subsequent phylogenetic and metabolic characterization of thermophilic, anaerobic, cellulolytic bacteria from the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park are presented.
8. Extreme to the 4th Power! Oil-, High Temperature- , Salt- and Pressure - Tolerant Microorganisms in Oil Reservoirs. What Secrets Can They Reveal?
Hans Kristian Kotlar
In the deep biosphere, extraordinary new types of microorganisms, sedimented or buried 200 - 500 million years ago, can be found. These organisms can be identified and characterized. The information obtained can be developed into novel tools for searching for new oil in sensitive regions like the Arctic, Antarctica and jungle areas. Relatively few enzymes are used in large-scale industrial applications. Enzymes isolated from these extremophile/ thermophile organisms might provide "game changing" new possibilities. They may furnish new incentives for the development of entirely new technical processes. These microbes provide opportunities for new technologies in second generation biofuel production. Several companies are working on alternative routes for the production of fuels using biomass as the raw source material. Traditional heavy oil extraction methods have major difficulties in justifying their high energy usage, CO2 emissions and soil and environment pollution. The first company implementing a large-scale process based on biotechnology principles in enhanced oil recovery will gain huge strategic and economic benefits. The knowledge of this huge subsurface population of diverse microorganisms provides excellent opportunities for bioprospecting. There should be a multitude of spin-offs outside the oil industry. The world is desperately in need of new enzymes, new antibiotics, new immunosuppressant, new anticancer agents, etc. This chapter reviews just some of the areas we have been working on at Statoil. Hopefully some of these investigations could one day solve some of the problems we will face in the future. One day these extremophiles could be on the payroll of many different companies.
9. Hyperthermophiles: Metabolic Diversity and Biotechnological Applications
Kazem Kashefi
The isolation and characterization of novel hyperthermophilic, microorganisms from modern hot environments have greatly increased our understanding of how microbes can live and thrive in such inhospitable environments. The finding that microorganisms have the ability to grow at these high temperature has implications for delimiting when and where life might have evolved on a hot, early Earth; the depth to which life exists in the Earth's subsurface; and the potential for life in hot, extraterrestrial environments. The study of hyperthermophilic microorganisms provides valuable insights into microbial respiration in a diversity of modern and ancient hydrothermal systems. In addition, it provides information about the fate of metals such as iron, uranium, technetium, and even gold. Reduction of these metals by hyperthermophiles provides, for example, a likely explanation for a number of geologically, environmentally and economically important ore deposits. This allows us to identify geological signatures for biological processes, something that may prove instrumental in our search for life on other planets. Finally, enzymes capable of functioning at high temperatures have a number of important applications in biomass conversion, in biotechnology, and in the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic industries.
10. Microbiology of Piezophiles in Deep-sea Environments
Chiaki Kato
Piezophilic microorganisms, which are defined as "pressure-loving" microorganisms, are isolated and characterized from high pressure environments. They grow better at high-hydrostatic pressures than at atmospheric pressures, and only exist at deeper water column environments, particularly in the deep-sea bottoms. Therefore, piezophilic microorganisms are typical deep-sea microorganisms that are well adapted to deep-sea pressure and temperature conditions. These microorganisms have special strategies for surviving in such extreme environments, where gene expression and enzyme activities could be controlled by pressure. Studies on adaptations to high pressure environments have recently been studied in detail, and the mechanisms involved are being elucidated. In this chapter, the distribution, taxonomy, cultivation and molecular characters of piezophiles are described.
11. Physiological Adaptations and Biotechnological Applications of Acidophiles
Mark Dopson
Acidophilic microorganisms are capable of growth at low pH and are defined as having an optimum below pH 5, with some extreme acidophiles capable of growth at pH 0. Acidophiles have an important role in ecology by catalyzing the generation of acidic, metal-containing solutions that can inhibit plant and animal growth, and in biotechnology via their propensity to solubilize metals from sulfide minerals. This review summarizes the most important aspects of acidophile physiology, including growth substrates (e.g. inorganic and organic carbon) and energy sources; temperature optima (from cold environments to high temperature thermal pools); and adaptations to metals in solution and low growth pH. The exploitation of acidophiles in biotechnology (e.g. in biomining) and potential future trends in research are also discussed. Due to a lack of general genetic systems in acidophiles, much of the latest research has been generated by systems biology approaches and these data have been focused upon.

How to buy this book

(EAN: 9781904455981 9781912530540 Subjects: [microbiology] [bacteriology] [molecular microbiology] [environmental microbiology] [extremophiles] )