Life at Extremes

Environments, Organisms and Strategies for Survival

Edited by Elanor M. Bell
April 2012
More details
  • Publisher
  • Published
    23rd April 2012
  • ISBN 9781845938147
  • Language English
  • Pages 576 pp.
  • Size 6.875" x 9.75"
  • Images figures, b/w & color photos

From arid deserts to icy poles, outer space to the depths of the sea, this exciting new work studies the remarkable life forms that have made these inhospitable environments their home. Covering not only micro-organisms, but also higher plants and animals such as worms, fish and polar plants, this book details the ecological, biological and biogeochemical challenges these organisms face and unifying themes between environments. Equally useful for the expert, student and casual scientific reader, this book also explores the impact of climate change, rapid seasonal changes and pollution on these extraordinary creatures.

"This book is highly informative and well-structured. Rather than considering extremophiles in a vacuum (although astrobiology does get a mention!), the emphasis is on integrating the biology of extremophiles with the properties of their natural habitats to arrive at a more holistic outlook. Each chapter covers a different group of 'extreme' habitats, and is authored by a blend of both younger and well-established scientists, nearly 70 contributors in total, lending a range of perspectives on the topic at hand. The diversity of life dwelling in extreme habitats discussed is equally inclusive, ranging from viruses through tardigrades to tubeworms, but there is much to appeal to a microbial purist. The book is comprehensively illustrated throughout, and written in a manner which is accessible to interested undergraduate or obsessive researcher alike. This is an exciting time to be a microbiologist interested in extreme environments, and this book does well to summarise the key developments in the field."

Arwyn Edwards, Aberystwyth University - , Microbiology Today

1 What are extreme environments and what lives in them?
2 Past extremes
3 Polar marine ecosystems
4 Sea ice
5 Polar terrestrial environments
6 Polar freshwaters: high altitude and latitude lakes
7 Subglacial lakes
8 Cold alpine regions
9 Glacier surface habitats
10 Polar deserts
11 Hot desert environments
12 Terrestrial hydrothermal environments
13 Deep-sea hydrothermal vents
14 High hydrostatic pressure environments
15 Deep sea
16 Caves and karst environments
17 The deep biosphere: deep subterranean and subseafloor habitats
18 Acidic environments
19 Life in alkaline environments and alkaliphiles
20 Hypersaline environments and halophiles
21 Hypoxic environments
22 High ultraviolet radiation environments
23 Life in a changing climate
24 Anthropogenic extreme environments
25 Biotechnological applications of extremophiles: promise and prospects
26 Extreme environments on Earth as analogues for life on other planets: astrobiologying remarks
27 Concluding remarks

Elanor M. Bell

Elanor M. Bell is at the Scottish Association for Marine Science, Scotland.