Chapter 9 : Ecology and Biodiversity of Cold-Adapted Microorganisms

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Cold-adapted organisms are generally classed in two overlapping groups: psychrophiles and psychrotrophs (or psychrotolerants). This chapter reviews the diversity of cold-adapted microorganisms known to exist in each of the major cold environments. Dissimilatory sulfate reduction is one of the most important bacterial reactions in anoxic marine sediments, and it is thought to account for approximately half of the total organic carbon remineralization. The Dry Valleys of Eastern Antarctica are the most extreme example of polar soils and are arguably the coldest and driest deserts on Earth. The most important lithic characteristics are porosity (providing interstitial spaces for microbial colonization) and translucence (facilitating photosynthetic activity). Alternatively, antifreeze proteins produced by psychrophiles could have applications in the food industry for products where low-temperature storage is critical but where ice formation would damage texture or structure. Habitats for cold-adapted microorganisms are widespread on Earth. Both the steady growth of new methods for metagenomic gene recovery and the continued expansion of the industrial enzyme market suggest that psychrophiles, even if relatively unexploited at present, will play an increasingly important role in the future of biotechnology.

Citation: Cowan D, Casanueva A, Stafford W. 2007. Ecology and Biodiversity of Cold-Adapted Microorganisms, p 119-132. In Gerday C, Glansdorff N (ed), Physiology and Biochemistry of Extremophiles. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815813.ch9
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Table 1.

Cardinal temperatures for cold-adapted organisms

Citation: Cowan D, Casanueva A, Stafford W. 2007. Ecology and Biodiversity of Cold-Adapted Microorganisms, p 119-132. In Gerday C, Glansdorff N (ed), Physiology and Biochemistry of Extremophiles. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815813.ch9
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Table 2.

Microbial genera commonly isolated from psychrophilic habitats

Citation: Cowan D, Casanueva A, Stafford W. 2007. Ecology and Biodiversity of Cold-Adapted Microorganisms, p 119-132. In Gerday C, Glansdorff N (ed), Physiology and Biochemistry of Extremophiles. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815813.ch9
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Table 3.

Psychrophile genome sequencing projects

Citation: Cowan D, Casanueva A, Stafford W. 2007. Ecology and Biodiversity of Cold-Adapted Microorganisms, p 119-132. In Gerday C, Glansdorff N (ed), Physiology and Biochemistry of Extremophiles. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815813.ch9

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