Special Issue "Extremophiles and the Origin of Life"

A special issue of Life (ISSN 2075-1729). This special issue belongs to the section "Life Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Paul Blum
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA
Interests: hyperthermophilic archaea; pathogenic enteric bacteria
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The likelihood that prebiotic habitats were distinct from those of modern Earth remains certain. A reasonable supposition about life’s origin is that it accommodated early and extreme environmental conditions that, today, are rare on Earth. Only extremophilic microbes exhibit the biological traits that are compatible with these conditions. A better understanding of these traits should, therefore, inform on the processes that lead to and ultimately established life. This type of information provides historic insight and also direction for locating life in extra-terrestrial locations. These traits can be better understood using a diversity of approaches ranging from classic microbial physiology, to chemistry and biochemistry to comprehensive ‘omic technologies. The maturation of scientific approaches promises to enhance appreciation for an ancient evolutionary process lacking a fossil record. In this collection of articles, a current understanding about the biological mechanisms that typify extremophiles are presented and provide a foundation for viewing the origin of life.

Prof. Paul Blum
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • extremophile traits
  • adaptive mechanisms
  • evolutionary origins
  • extraterrestrial life

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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Article
Tracing the Repertoire of Promiscuous Enzymes along the Metabolic Pathways in Archaeal Organisms
Life 2017, 7(3), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/life7030030 - 13 Jul 2017
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2555
Abstract
The metabolic pathways that carry out the biochemical transformations sustaining life depend on the efficiency of their associated enzymes. In recent years, it has become clear that promiscuous enzymes have played an important role in the function and evolution of metabolism. In this [...] Read more.
The metabolic pathways that carry out the biochemical transformations sustaining life depend on the efficiency of their associated enzymes. In recent years, it has become clear that promiscuous enzymes have played an important role in the function and evolution of metabolism. In this work we analyze the repertoire of promiscuous enzymes in 89 non-redundant genomes of the Archaea cellular domain. Promiscuous enzymes are defined as those proteins with two or more different Enzyme Commission (E.C.) numbers, according the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) database. From this analysis, it was found that the fraction of promiscuous enzymes is lower in Archaea than in Bacteria. A greater diversity of superfamily domains is associated with promiscuous enzymes compared to specialized enzymes, both in Archaea and Bacteria, and there is an enrichment of substrate promiscuity rather than catalytic promiscuity in the archaeal enzymes. Finally, the presence of promiscuous enzymes in the metabolic pathways was found to be heterogeneously distributed at the domain level and in the phyla that make up the Archaea. These analyses increase our understanding of promiscuous enzymes and provide additional clues to the evolution of metabolism in Archaea. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extremophiles and the Origin of Life)
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Review

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Review
Reporting Key Features in Cold-Adapted Bacteria
Life 2018, 8(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/life8010008 - 13 Mar 2018
Cited by 47 | Viewed by 3606
Abstract
It is well known that cold environments are predominant over the Earth and there are a great number of reports analyzing bacterial adaptations to cold. Most of these works are focused on characteristics traditionally involved in cold adaptation, such as the structural adjustment [...] Read more.
It is well known that cold environments are predominant over the Earth and there are a great number of reports analyzing bacterial adaptations to cold. Most of these works are focused on characteristics traditionally involved in cold adaptation, such as the structural adjustment of enzymes, maintenance of membrane fluidity, expression of cold shock proteins and presence of compatible solutes. Recent works based mainly on novel “omic” technologies have presented evidence of the presence of other important features to thrive in cold. In this work, we analyze cold-adapted bacteria, looking for strategies involving novel features, and/or activation of non-classical metabolisms for a cold lifestyle. Metabolic traits related to energy generation, compounds and mechanisms involved in stress resistance and cold adaptation, as well as characteristics of the cell envelope, are analyzed in heterotrophic cold-adapted bacteria. In addition, metagenomic, metatranscriptomic and metaproteomic data are used to detect key functions in bacterial communities inhabiting cold environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extremophiles and the Origin of Life)
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Review
DNA Protection Protein, a Novel Mechanism of Radiation Tolerance: Lessons from Tardigrades
Life 2017, 7(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/life7020026 - 15 Jun 2017
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 9629
Abstract
Genomic DNA stores all genetic information and is indispensable for maintenance of normal cellular activity and propagation. Radiation causes severe DNA lesions, including double-strand breaks, and leads to genome instability and even lethality. Regardless of the toxicity of radiation, some organisms exhibit extraordinary [...] Read more.
Genomic DNA stores all genetic information and is indispensable for maintenance of normal cellular activity and propagation. Radiation causes severe DNA lesions, including double-strand breaks, and leads to genome instability and even lethality. Regardless of the toxicity of radiation, some organisms exhibit extraordinary tolerance against radiation. These organisms are supposed to possess special mechanisms to mitigate radiation-induced DNA damages. Extensive study using radiotolerant bacteria suggested that effective protection of proteins and enhanced DNA repair system play important roles in tolerability against high-dose radiation. Recent studies using an extremotolerant animal, the tardigrade, provides new evidence that a tardigrade-unique DNA-associating protein, termed Dsup, suppresses the occurrence of DNA breaks by radiation in human-cultured cells. In this review, we provide a brief summary of the current knowledge on extremely radiotolerant animals, and present novel insights from the tardigrade research, which expand our understanding on molecular mechanism of exceptional radio-tolerability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extremophiles and the Origin of Life)
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