Friday, August 21, 2009
Life at the Extremes
Life has flourished here on Earth. Typically, living things are found in warm, wet, sunlit zones, at pressures similar to those at sea level and in conditions that are neither acidic nor alkaline. But living cells have also been found in areas that seem inhospitable to life: in hot springs, lying dormant buried in ice, in acid-filled caves and in the depths of the ocean. By exploiting new environments, these pioneering organisms gain a competitive advantage that allows them to proliferate. How are they able to tolerate these conditions?