Extremophile

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Definition

noun, plural: extremophiles

An organism adapted to live and thrive in an environment with extreme conditions such as temperature, pressure, salinity, etc.


Supplement

Extremophiles are organisms capable of living in an extreme environment. An extreme environment is one in which most organisms would not be able to live and therefore is described as uninhabitable to most organisms. It could be due to extremes in temperature, pressure, or salinity that would be detrimental to most living organisms. However, there are still certain organisms, such as extremophiles, that are able to survive and thrive in such conditions. Extremophiles are typically unicellular organisms belonging to the domain Archaea.

There are many forms of extremophiles. Some of them are as follows:

  • acidophiles – organisms that live in acidic environments
  • alkaliphiles – organisms that live in basic environments, e.g. soda lake
  • barophiles – organisms that live under high barometric pressure
  • halophiles – organisms that live in an environment of high salinity
  • hyperthermophiles – organisms that live in an extremely hot environment, e.g. deep sea smoker vent
  • microaerophiles – organisms that live in environments low in oxygen
  • thermophiles – organisms that live at high temperatures
  • psychrophiles - organisms that live at temperatures much lower than normal
  • polyextremophiles – organisms that are capable of withstanding and live under two or more extreme environmental factors


Word origin: extremus (extreme) + phile (love)