About this Research Topic
For billions of years, since our first ancestors appeared, natural environmental conditions have been a driving force in the evolution of life in our planet. Adaptive mechanisms shown by successful unicellular or multicellular organisms in extreme environments, are essential to their survival and reproduction. Natural conditions, such as high-altitude, high gravity, cold, heat, saline, oligotrophic, and others, are examples of stressful factors than challenge the physical and chemical limits at which life can persevere. Among higher organisms, physiological modifications such as cardiorespiratory adjustments for oxygen homeostasis are adaptive strategies allowing humans to work and live at high-altitude. Along with this, some human activities are performed in severe environmental conditions, such as diving, races during extreme heat and cold, among others, which demonstrate the human capacity to push their limits to able to respond and adapt to conditions where human life would be a great challenge. Also, other adaptive responses relative to the photosynthetic process have been reported in plants from drylands. In microorganisms inhabiting extreme environments such as hot and cold deserts, extensive research has been reported in both diversity and abundance as well as metabolic pathways, gene products and bioactive evaluation of promising biomolecules. In fact, receptor overexpression, second messengers and/or secondary metabolites are some examples relative to adaptive processes promoted by one or more extreme environmental conditions, which could even be used in biomedicine, demonstrating the translational potential to human physiology.
Today, despite technological advances, the adaptation to extreme environments continues being a challenge to research on cellular and molecular biology, biotechnology, microbiology, and physiology. Indeed, one example is habitability at high-altitude with low temperatures and high UV irradiation that are colonized by psychrophilic organisms (mainly bacteria and archaea), which has been adapted to growth in a wide temperature range (-15°C to 20°C) and under hypobaric conditions. Also, research on the effects and adaptation to intensive mining activity in high altitude regions (e.g., Australia, Russia, Brazil, and Chile) is increasingly investigated. Thus, research in inhospitable environments, apparently devoid of life forms, has shown the resilience of life in our planet.
We welcome the submission of manuscripts to this new Frontiers Research Topic as original research, reviews, minireviews, opinions and hypotheses on the following subjects: physiology, microbiology, reproduction, and molecular biology of unicellular and multicellular organisms living at the physical and chemical limits of life. This Research Topic will be focused on cellular and molecular biology and physiological adaptive mechanisms at the cell level but also at tissue and organ levels. The current then, this new Research Topic, will emphasize the adaptive strategies to in environmental conditions of involving humans, animals, cell models and microorganisms, with special consideration in physiological and cellular adaptive mechanisms at cellular/tissue/organ level.
Keywords: extreme environments, human physiology, animal physiology, adaptive responses, extremotolerant microbes
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.