Caister Academic Press

Physiological Adaptations and Biotechnological Applications of Acidophiles

Mark Dopson
from: Extremophiles: Microbiology and Biotechnology (Edited by: Roberto Paul Anitori). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2012)


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 read more ...
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