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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2008 Oct;19(5):445-53. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2008.08.001. Epub 2008 Sep 11.

Life in hot acid: pathway analyses in extremely thermoacidophilic archaea.

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  • 1Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7905, USA.


The extremely thermoacidophilic archaea are a particularly intriguing group of microorganisms that must simultaneously cope with biologically extreme pHs (< or = 4) and temperatures (Topt > or = 60 degrees C) in their natural environments. Their expanding biotechnological significance relates to their role in biomining of base and precious metals and their unique mechanisms of survival in hot acid, at both the cellular and biomolecular levels. Recent developments, such as advances in understanding of heavy metal tolerance mechanisms, implementation of a genetic system, and discovery of a new carbon fixation pathway, have been facilitated by the availability of genome sequence data and molecular genetic systems. As a result, new insights into the metabolic pathways and physiological features that define extreme thermoacidophily have been obtained, in some cases suggesting prospects for biotechnological opportunities.

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