Caister Academic Press

Extremophiles and Biotechnology: How Far Have We Come?

Mark Paul Taylor, Lonnie Van Zyl, Marla Tuffin and Don Cowan
from: Extremophiles: Microbiology and Biotechnology (Edited by: Roberto Paul Anitori). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2012)


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 read more ...
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