Extremophiles and Biotechnology

EEA project on extremophilic Archaea

A joint EEA project on diversity and biotechnology of extremophilic Archaea from geothermal environments in Bulgaria has been awarded to the General Microbiology research group and the Institute of Microbiology, The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

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Archaea, sometimes referred to as the third domain of life, encompasses prokaryotic microorganisms often dominating in extreme environments. The most extremophilic representatives of this domain are able to grow at temperatures above 120oC and at pH values down to 0. Because of their adaptation to extreme conditions, enzymes from Archaea have a large potential as biocatalysts in biotechnology. So far, we have only explored a very minor part of the archaeal diversity. A large number of novel archaeal groups, including a number of novel phyla, have been identified in extreme environments using molecular ecology techniques. In the current project, we aim to explore the diversity and biotechnological potential of novel Archaea in Bulgarian hot springs known to contain a high diversity of hitherto uncultured extremophilic Archaea. The project will include metagenomics and directed enrichment and cultivation approaches aiming at characterization of novel archaeal organisms and compounds with biotechnological potential. 

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