Thriving in Extremes!

Where are you most and least comfortable? Basically, the average human survives in a nice, safe place with food, oxygen, radiation protection, and naturally room temperature. Well, some organisms aren’t nearly as picky about their environments. They might live in briny pools, deep underground, or by the Chernobyl reactor meltdown site. They have the superhuman (literally, since they’re not human anyways) ability to live in really high or really low temperature, pressure, pH, et cetera…Ladies and gentlemen, we present the extremophiles!

Yellowstone National Park Prismatic Springs.
Yellowstone National Park
Prismatic Springs.

Some are adapted to only live in one extreme environment, like a vacuum or an oxygenless environment, but D. radiodurans (Deinococcus radiodurans, meaning formidable grain that tolerates radiation) can do it all! It specializes in radiation resistance. It can withstand up to 1.5 million rads, up to 3000 times the dose needed to kill a human! Its other immunities, like dehydration, make it a polyextremophile. Whoa. I think NASA might want to recruit this species if they have budget cuts. They need, like, no life support. AND they don’t cause any diseases as far as we know. Yay!
Arthur W. Anderson found this lovely lifeform in 1956 when scientists were trying to figure out whether or not we could sterilize food using high levels of gamma radiation. They subjected a tin of meat to radiation that they thought could kill all lifeforms (do NOT try this at home), but the meat thereafter spoiled, which is when Anderson identified the bacterium in the spotlight. Ta-dah! I wonder if they ever do kick lines under the microscope…that would be really awesome!

Alaska where some Extremophiles live. Humans just acclimate.
Alaska where some Extremophiles live.
Humans just acclimate.

Why extremophiles? Well, if there is life on other planets, chances are they don’t live in the same climate there as we do. Heavy atmospheres might make it hard for extraterrestrial amoebas to move their little pseudopods(microscopic fake feet), or it might be too hot or too cold for liquid water. Life on other planets would most likely be like D. radiodurans, or other tough little bacteria. But that’s just an educated guess based on decades of research.
Well then, if you want to become an astrobiologist or a down-to-earth microbiologist. you’ll know just what you’ll be looking for!



It’s an amazing world of science out there. Let’s go exploring!!


A few types of extremophiles
Halophiles: likes a LOT of salt
Endoliths: underground rock-dwellers
Acidophile: prefers really acidic environment, basically low pH
Alkaliphile: loves places with high pH
Anaerobe: survives without oxygen, hence anaerobe. Some hate oxygen, even when it might be the more plentiful method.
Cryophile: likes the cold-sounds a bit like me;)
Thermophile: would like a midsummer trip to Death Valley. They thrive in temperatures exceeding 104 Fahrenheit (40 celsius). Hyperthermophile: they ask to crank up the heat to 176 Fahrenheit (or in other countries, 80 Celsius)

57 Comments Add yours

  1. I have no ideas at all about extremophiles. Thanks so much for the info. As I google it, it looks pretty amazing!

  2. You are so right Indah! They are pretty amazing. Imagine…that is only in our planet. What else is out there!

  3. theonlysup says:

    what an informative post , your blogs are always unique filled with science adventures . thats what makes it more interesting for me to read

  4. Thank you so much. We live in such an amazing planet full of live that thrives no matter the obstacles.

  5. Indeed! sometimes I do wonder 😀 Keep exploring!!

  6. Yes indeed…ha! ha!

  7. desleyjane says:

    Wow that’s really extreme! Immune to radiation?! That is a really neat trick 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thanks for stopping by. Just letting you know that the girls looked the picture of the little girls at the beach with the red swimmies. It was so cute.

  9. That need to push the envelope likely explains why humans moved out of their comfort zone 2 million years ago, and went to areas we weren’t suited to. What other mammal does that! Love this article.

  10. Thank you so much for such an insightful comment.

  11. Wow! Wonder why I never came across such an amazing blog before 🙁 . If I not mistaken yellowstone park has the largest geyser right? And the durans bacteria, what a species ? 😮

  12. Well thank you! Yes the “Steamboat Geyser” & it also has “Old Faithful” They are pretty amazing. yellowstone is magnificent. Thank you for stopping by.

  13. Yes it is! Thank you so much for stopping by!

  14. desleyjane says:

    Oh that’s lovely. So glad they liked it. Thanks!

  15. I’m coming back as an extremophile 🙂 Excellent post! I remember watching the Cosmos with Neil deGrassi Tyson (sp?) and there were these little ‘creatures’ (little orange guys) which could withstand so many of the things that kill everything else. I can’t remember what they were called, but they were cool. Did you see that series?

  16. Those little guys were the Tardigrades…too cute. We have seen the cosmos many times over. Excellent documentary/series. Hope your niece like it. They had her in mind when writing this post…..too cute. Thank you so much for your lovely comments.

  17. Well I am certainly nowhere near as flexible as D. radiodurans. Far from it really :-). To answer your first question tho…I am most comfortable sailing on the open ocean and least comfortable flying in an airplane. I would rather sail in gale force winds for 4 days straight than to fly from NYC to DC. Extreme, but nowhere near as cool as the extremophiles. Love your science!

  18. Ha! Ha! Anyone that would rather be on sailboat in gale force winds for 4 days then flying is an extremophile to us. Thanks for stopping by.

  19. I really enjoyed reading this – have already tweeted it out to my followers and will include a link to it in my next blog post.

  20. Autism Mom says:

    I love tardigrades! So cute! Great post, thank you!

  21. Yes, tardigrades are cute. So nice to have you stop by!

  22. Just checked out your very interesting blog. Following you on Twitter, and here!

  23. Thank you so much! So glad yo enjoyed the article!

  24. And am still wondering connecting with Darwin’s “Survival of the fittest!” Wow! it was a nice read…

  25. And am still wondering about Darwin’s “Survival of fittest theory”.. nice read.. very informative..

  26. Thank you do much Prakash!

  27. The first thing that crossed my mind after reading this awesome post was that humans should now definitely stop bragging about their success on the planet 😀
    Brilliantly written with a perfectly placed tinge of humor 🙂

  28. Cool site, thanks for stopping by Today, You Will Write and liking one of my posts.

  29. Nicely put because we are here by natures consent and should treat the planet with more respect. Thank you for stopping by!

  30. Truly said. Only if everyone can realize that 🙂 And it was a pleasure to witness a perfect blend of Science and literature in your writing. This is something I wish to do in future 🙂

  31. Thank you so much! It is always fun!

  32. lightwalker1 says:

    Your posts are so enlightening. I always feel smarter because I stopped by to read what you write. In love and light Cheryle

  33. Aquileana says:

    This post is so interesting… Thanks for introducing the extremophiles and long life to them (I know, they don’t even’t need these wishes, as they are meant to make it through, no matter what!). All the best to you! Aquileana :star:

  34. Yes! They have evolved magnificently! Thank you for stopping by!

  35. Ha! Ha! Thank you so much for stopping by!

  36. maggiepea says:

    We just watched “Interstellar” last night. For some reason, this post fit right in with that.
    Someone once demonstrated how futile it is for us humans to try to reign these puppies in. They have been here long before us and will be here long after we’re gone.
    They seem so “foreign ” to me, of course, but the way you wrote about them was close to endearing and made them much more interesting.
    Have you thought about teaching science? Your students wouldn’t sleep in class! 🙂

  37. Thank you so very much for this absolutely wonderful comment. Interstellar was brilliantly done with some science fiction squeezed in there, but like they say, todays science fiction is tomorrows science. Extremophiles are so foreign yet a part of your environment. Thank you so very much for stopping by.

  38. Prajakta says:

    What an illuminating post! I had no idea this is possible. And like someone else here, I just watched Interstellar last weeked – your post connects in quite a few ways

  39. Cecilia says:

    Wow, your first question didn’t let me go. Where am I the most and least comfortable? It really makes me think. Everything about extremophiles is interesting. I read your post with big interest. Thanks for sharing.

  40. Thank you for stopping by!

  41. Thank you so much for your comment@

  42. How absolutely fascinating! Reminds me of when I learned about species who thrive very deep in the ocean near hydrothermal vents, and who survive because of chemosynthesis instead of photosynthesis. Love your blog! (I am a science geek at heart).

  43. Thank you for stopping by! We are all science geeks to an extent….it is an amazing world!

  44. Good Woman says:

    A very interesting post with just the right touch of humor: “I wonder if they ever do kick lines under the microscope” and “(do NOT try this at home)”. Well done.

  45. Extremophiles…I didn’t know about them. Your blog has definitely enlightened me in more than one way… 🙂

  46. So nice to hear that. Extremophiles are definitely amazing.

  47. One of my favorites is thalassolituus oleivorans, which eats oil and naturally helps clean up oil spills. ~James

  48. Wow! We have to look into that. Thanks for the information!

  49. Gone Wild says:

    Thanks for the follow: you’re blog is Cool and Hot! I’m a geologist living in Wyoming: we think of ourselves as very large extremophiles.

  50. Ha! Ha! Thats cool & hot!

  51. Excellent article. Thank you.

  52. Thank you so much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.