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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2002 Jun;5(3):301-9.

Psychrophiles and polar regions.

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  • 1School of Oceanography, Box 357940, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.


Most reviews of microbial life in cold environments begin with a lament of how little is known about the psychrophilic (cold-loving) inhabitants or their specific adaptations to the cold. This situation is changing, as research becomes better focused by new molecular genetic (and other) approaches, by awareness of accelerated environmental change in polar regions, and by strong interest in the habitability of frozen environments elsewhere in the solar system. This review highlights recent discoveries in molecular adaptation, biodiversity and microbial dynamics in the cold, along with the concept of eutectophiles, organisms living at the critical interface inherent to the phase change of water to ice.

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