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Mar Biotechnol (NY). 2005 Jul-Aug;7(4):253-71. Epub 2005 Jul 21.

Bacterial exopolysaccharides from extreme marine environments with special consideration of the southern ocean, sea ice, and deep-sea hydrothermal vents: a review.

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School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania, GPO Box 252-54, Hobart, Tasmania, 7000, Australia.


Exopolysaccharides (EPSs) are high molecular weight carbohydrate polymers that make up a substantial component of the extracellular polymers surrounding most microbial cells in the marine environment. EPSs constitute a large fraction of the reduced carbon reservoir in the ocean and enhance the survival of marine bacteria by influencing the physicochemical environment around the bacterial cell. Microbial EPSs are abundant in the Antarctic marine environment, for example, in sea ice and ocean particles, where they may assist microbial communities to endure extremes of temperature, salinity, and nutrient availability. The microbial biodiversity of Antarctic ecosystems is relatively unexplored. Deep-sea hydrothermal vent environments are characterized by high pressure, extreme temperature, and heavy metals. The commercial value of microbial EPSs from these habitats has been established recently. Extreme environments offer novel microbial biodiversity that produces varied and promising EPSs. The biotechnological potential of these biopolymers from hydrothermal vent environments as well as from Antarctic marine ecosystems remains largely untapped.

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