Research Topic

Bioprospecting and Biotechnology of Extremophiles

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Extreme environments are defined as those environments that contains conditions that are hard to survive for most known life forms. Extreme environments include natural (hyper-arid deserts and rocks, oceanic deeps, salt lakes, volcanoes, high mountains and upper atmosphere etc.) as well as artificial ...

Extreme environments are defined as those environments that contains conditions that are hard to survive for most known life forms. Extreme environments include natural (hyper-arid deserts and rocks, oceanic deeps, salt lakes, volcanoes, high mountains and upper atmosphere etc.) as well as artificial (operating rooms, aircrafts, spaceships, etc.) environments. Due that most of the earth’s surface (>80%) is covered extreme environments is not surprising the presence of a wide diversity of organisms (e.g., insects, fishes, plants, fungi, bacteria, archaea and others biological agents such as virus) are able to colonize, survive and proliferate in extreme environments in nature. Those organisms living in extreme environments, also known as extremophiles, have evolved and developed a wide variety of strategies or mechanisms to live under harsh conditions, such as extremely high or low: temperature, pressure, oxygen, carbon dioxide, acidity, radiation, nutrient contents, water contents, salt contents, sugars, etc. Thus, the extremophiles have opened a new window in bioprospecting to the discovery, application and commercialization of novel bioactive products.

In this sense, a classic example of extremophiles and their bioactive compounds is the DNA polymerase from the thermophilic bacteria (e.g. Thermus aquaticus) from hydrothermal environments. Without doubt the advances in molecular biology and life science during last decades would not have been possible without these extremozymes. Another example is cold-active enzymes from Artic or Antarctic extremophiles (fishes, insects, plants and microorganisms) which are highly attractive for biotechnologists as they can be applied in food processing to improve milk fermentation to store frozen yogurt and ice-cream production. Extremozymes have also been investigated and used in environmental bioremediation, medicine and molecular biology. Under climate change scenario, extremophiles (plants and microorganisms) from arid deserts are recently being evaluated to improve the tolerance of cereal crops and fruit trees and therefore prevent economical losses in agriculture produced by climate adverse events, such drought, flooding, frost damage, etc. Therefore, extremozymes and bioactive compounds produced by extremophiles and their potential application in biotechnology have been recognized in various fields, such as medicine (antibiotics and antitumor), food technology (phytases and phosphatases), biofuel production (protease and lipases), cosmetic industry (carotenoids), biomining and contaminated soil remediation, agriculture and organic residues cycling (cellulose and lignocellulose), etc.

The aim of this Research Topic is to cover multiple disciplines in science on any aspect of the bioprospecting and biotechnology of extremophiles, including medicine, bioenergy and biofuels, bioinformatics, biomaterials, biosafety and biosecurity, aquatic biotechnology, agriculture, environmental science, nanobiotechnology, industrial process, synthetic biology, DNA/protein engineering, all-omics fields, etc.


Keywords: Biomaterials, Bioactive compounds, Bioengineering, Extremophiles, Extremozymes


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