Extremophiles is a component of Encyclopedia of Biological, Physiological and Health Sciences in the global Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), which is an integrated compendium of twenty one Encyclopedias.
The extremophiles represent some of the most fascinating organisms on Earth for the simple reason that they inhabit extreme environments characterized by physical and (or) chemical properties which render them totally inhospitable for most of the other organisms.
The work has been sub-divided into 6 main topics related to the above mentioned environmental conditions. These topics consist of a general introduction and of several more specialized chapters that have been written by scientists prominent in the field. The chapters cover the description of the biotopes and inhabiting species, their specific characteristics as well as what we know about the molecular mechanisms which constitute the fundamentals of the resistance and adaptation of extremophiles to extreme conditions. The theme “Extremophiles” is headed by two chapters introducing the subject for non-specialists in the field, one covering the basic concepts and the other one giving an overview of the biotopes. These three volumes are aimed at the following five major target audiences: University and College students Educators, Professional practitioners, Research personnel and Policy analysts, managers, and decision makers and NGOs.
Charles Gerday received a B.Sc. degree in Chemistry in 1961 from the University of Liège in Belgium and was appointed research assistant in the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine in the same university. In 1964, he became lecturer at the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Montreal (Canada), and obtained a Ph.D. degree in 1967 with a thesis focusing on the synthesis of tritium labeled, optically active amino acids. Back in Belgium in 1967, he was appointed successively lecturer and senior lecturer in the Department of General Biology at the University of Liège where his research explored the regulation of muscle contraction by calcium-binding proteins. In 1972, he was a post-doctoral research fellow in the Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics at the University of Oxford. From 1981, his research activities were centered on the molecular adaptation of enzymes produced by cold-adapted organisms such as fish and bacteria originating from the Antarctic. He participated to several expeditions in the Antarctic. In 1988, he was appointed Professor of Biochemistry and Head of the Laboratory of Biochemistry at the University of Liège. He is the author of 160 original publications, and has been Chairman of the Belgian Biophysical Society since 1994.
Nicolas Glansdorff is Professor of Microbiology and Genetics at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Flemish Free University of Brussels) and Director of the Jean-Marie Wiame Institute for Microbiological Research. He received MSc and PhD degrees in Biology from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He was several years postdoctoral fellow of the Belgian National Science Foundation; this period included a one year visit in 1967 at the Institute of Genetics in Glasgow, directed at the time by Professor G.Pontecorvo. He made several visits of a few months each at the Microbiology Department of the New York University Medical School in the laboratory of Professor W.K. Maas. At the beginning, his research interests resided mainly in molecular genetics and mechanisms of gene regulation, using arginine and pyrimidine biosynthesis as model systems. In recent years, his interest became more and more focused on the molecular physiology and evolutionary relationships of extremophiles, mainly thermophiles, psychrophiles, and piezophiles.