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Current and future biotechnological applications of Extremophiles.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

ONPS 1018 APPLIED MICROBIOLOGY LITERATURE REVIEW SEMESTER 2 CURRENT AND FUTURE BIOTECHNOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS OF EXTREMOPHILES MICHAEL NAJDOVSKI 2107931E Contents ABSTRACT.................................................................................... .3 INTRODUCTION...............................................................................3 EXTREMOPHILES.............................................................................4 Anaerobes.........................................................................................4 Thermophiles.....................................................................................4 Hyperthermophile................................................................................4 Psychrophiles.....................................................................................4 Halophiles.........................................................................................4 Acidophile.........................................................................................4 Alkaliphiles.......................................................................................5 Xerophiles.........................................................................................5 Endoliths...........................................................................................5 CURRENT APPLICATIONS OF EXTREMOPHILES....................................7 FUTURE APPLICATIONS OF EXTREMOPHILES.......................................8 CONCLUSION...................................................................................9 REFERENCES..................................................................................10 Abstract Extremophiles (lovers of extremes) are microorganisms that live and thrive in the harshest of conditions. They grow in volcanic vents, hot springs, in high salt concentration, freezing temperatures and all conditions that would normally not support life. These may be used to our advantage because of their ability to survive in these conditions. The bacterium Thermus aquaticus lives in hot water conditions whose optimal temperature is about 70?C. Taq polymerase is an enzyme produced from the bacterium that is now a major component of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). There are many other uses of these bacterium and many more to be discovered. Introduction The majority of extremophiles are bacteria. These bacteria can tolerate harsh environments that other organisms cannot. These bacteria and other organisms have mechanisms that allow them to survive in these environments as long as they have an energy source. There are many types of extremophiles. Some love heat, some love dry conditions, salty conditions and many more. ...read more.

Middle

Several algae, such as the unicellular red alga Cyanidium caldarium and the green alga Dunaliella acidophila, are exceptional acidophiles both of which can live below pH 1. Three fungi, Acontium cylatium, Cephalosporium sp., and Trichosporon cerebriae, grow near pH 0. Another species, Ferroplasma acidarmanus, has been found growing at pH 0 in acid mine drainage in Iron Mountain in California. These polyextremophiles (tolerant to multiple environmental extremes) thrive in a brew of sulphuric acid and high levels of copper, arsenic, cadmium, and zinc with only a cell membrane and no cell wall. Alkaliphiles: Organisms that live and reproduce in highly alkaline environments, such as soda lakes and carbonate-rich soils, where the pH values range from about 9 to 11. Alkaliphiles maintain a mildly alkaline intracellular pH of about 8 among surroundings of a much higher pH by continuously pumping hydrogen ions across their cell membranes into their cytoplasm (22). Xerophiles: Organisms that live and reproduce in dry conditions where humidity is low. These bacteria must have mechanisms that prevent water from the cells from escaping and evaporating in the atmosphere. They must be able to retain their water. Endoliths: These are organisms that live inside rock and thousands of different species are known. Endoliths have been found inhabiting the Earth's crust at depths up to nearly 3 km. ...read more.

Conclusion

With the use of thermophilic enzymes, viscosity and sterility would not be a problem and so the production of trehalose will be improved (9). Bacteriorhodopsin, the photosynthetic pigment in halo bacteria, may one day be used in eye operations, namely in the retina. Because it is sensitive to light it may assist the retinal function to improve eyesight (26). Psychrophiles may be introduced into summer crops and the psychrophilic enzymes may allow for the crops to survive through winter therefore doubling the yield. Xerophilc bacteria may be placed into plants and allow them to grow in the desert, making the desert a tropical wonderland instead of a lifeless, dry and uninhabitable place. There are countless other ideas that need to be explored but this is difficult as extemophiles need special conditions to grow and these are expensive to reproduce in a laboratory. Conclusion Many extremophiles have been isolated and some of the purified enzymes have potential for current and future applications. Even with the extensive research that has gone into studying these enzymes and organisms, applications remain limited mainly to the difficulties associated with large-scale production because of their extreme nature. Extremophiles may very well change life and the Earth, as we know it, from eradication of disease and hunger to life in places we never thought possible. All this may one day come to be but until then we have got to keep trying. ...read more.

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