Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Rev Microbiol. 2013 Feb;11(2):83-94. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2939.

Microbial life under extreme energy limitation.

Author information

NASA Ames Research Center, Mail Stop 239-4, Moffett Field, California 94035-1000, USA.


A great number of the bacteria and archaea on Earth are found in subsurface environments in a physiological state that is poorly represented or explained by laboratory cultures. Microbial cells in these very stable and oligotrophic settings catabolize 10⁴- to 10⁶-fold more slowly than model organisms in nutrient-rich cultures, turn over biomass on timescales of centuries to millennia rather than hours to days, and subsist with energy fluxes that are 1,000-fold lower than the typical culture-based estimates of maintenance requirements. To reconcile this disparate state of being with our knowledge of microbial physiology will require a revised understanding of microbial energy requirements, including identifying the factors that comprise true basal maintenance and the adaptations that might serve to minimize these factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center