Extremophiles flip books

Extremophiles means organisms that love extremes, that is, physical or geochemical conditions that are detrimental to most life on Earth, especially human life. Extremophiles are typicallly microbes, either bacteria or archaea. Examples of extreme conditions are temperature (high or low), salinity, pH (acid or base), dryness, and radiation. Click on the links below to learn about the kinds of microbes that not only tolerate, but require these extreme conditions to live.

Thermophiles

We call all the habitable places on Earth the biosphere. The biosphere we normally experience can get hot, at least to us, but the largest portion of the biosphere is mostly invisible to us. We see that part only when it comes to the surface of the Earth in hot springs and geysers. Deep in the Earth’s crust, the rock reaches the maximum temperature at which known life exists, about 120°C (248°F). Microbes that live at temperatures above our body temperature up to that temperature are called thermophiles, or heat-lovers. Based on what we know, life on Earth may have started at these high temperatures, so the real question we should ask is how could life have evolved to live at the cold temperatures at which humans live?

Contact me at: kenneth.noll@uconn.edu                                                                                                              © Kenneth Noll 2017