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IX. Extremeophiles


These extremeophiles are members of the Archaea and typically are organisms that are new to science.Are these things of any use to us? Well, the extremeophiles have been of interest not just to marine microbiologists but to biotechnologists as well.

DNA Polymerases,
Vent Bacteria

There was an advertisement in Nature magazine a couple of years ago which shows a little glimpse of a colony of tube worms. It was an ad for something called vent DNA polymerases. As I'm sure most of you know, one of the key breakthroughs in molecular biology was the invention of the polymerase chain reaction. It's a molecular technique that allows an enormous variety of different types of molecular studies to be done. It's based on the use of heat stable DNA polymerase enzymes. Well, it turns out when you go down to the hydrothermal vents, you can find bacteria that generate an enzyme, the so called vent DNA polymerase,which turns out to be a very stable enzyme for doing the sorts of molecular reactions that people have as their bread and butter techniques. In fact, there are many varieties of polymerases now available commercially. So it's an interesting example of how when one goes into an extreme environment, one finds some really oddball organisms that actually yield some commercially important products.


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