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Challenges and Adaptations of Life in Alkaline Habitats

  • Gashaw MamoEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology book series (ABE, volume 172)

Abstract

A vast array of organisms is known thriving in high pH environments. The biotechnological, medical, and environmental importance of this remarkable group of organisms has attracted a great deal of interest among researchers and industrialists. One of the most intriguing phenomena of alkaliphiles that engrossed researchers’ attention is their adaptation to high pH and ability to thrive in the “extreme” condition which is often lethal to other organisms. Studies made in this line revealed that alkaliphiles deployed a range of adaptive strategies to overcome the various challenges of life in high pH environments. This chapter highlights some of the challenges and the most important structural and functional adaptations that alkaliphiles evolved to circumvent the hurdles and flourish in alkaline habitats. The fascinating alkaliphiles’ pH homeostasis that effectively maintains a lower cytoplasmic pH than its extracellular environment and the remarkable bioenergetics that produce ATP much faster than non-alkaliphiles systems are reviewed in detail. Moreover, the adaptive mechanisms that alkaliphiles employ to keep the structural and functional integrity of their biomolecules at elevated pH are assessed.

It is undeniable that our understanding of alkaliphiles adaptation mechanisms to high pH is expanding with time. However, considering that little is known so far about the adaptation of life in alkaline milieu, it seems that this is just the beginning. Probably, there is a lot more waiting for discovery, and some of these issues are raised in the chapter, which not only summarizes the relevant literature but also forwards new insights regarding high pH adaptation. Moreover, an effort is made to include the largely neglected eukaryotic organisms’ adaptation to high pH habitats.

Graphical Abstract

Keywords

Alkaliphiles Alkaliphiles adaptation Antiporter ATP synthase Bioenergetic Cardiolipin Cytochrome Eukaryotes Extremophiles pH homeostasis Secondary cell wall S-layer Squalene Unsaturated fatty acids 

Abbreviations

ADP

Adenosine diphosphate

ATP

Adenosine triphosphate

BMB

Bis(monoacylglycero) phosphate

CPA

Cation/proton antiporters

GH

Glycoside hydrolase

LPS

Lipopolysaccharide

Mrp

Multiple resistance and pH

MS

Mass spectrometry

NMDA

N-methyl-d-aspartate

NMR

Nuclear magnetic resonance

OXPHOS

Oxidative phosphorylation

PCM

L-isoaspartyl protein carboxyl methyltransferase

PG

Peptidoglycan

Pi

Inorganic phosphate

pI

Isoelectric points

Pmf

Proton motive force

SCWP

Secondary cell wall polymers

S-layer

Cell surface layer

SLH

S-layer homology

SlpA

Surface-layer protein A

Smf

Sodium motive force

TCDB

Transporter classification database

TMH4

Trans-membrane helix-4

TMH5

Trans-membrane helix-5

TUA

Teichuronic acid

TUP

Teichuronopeptide

UT-A

Urea transporter A

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indienz ABBillebergaSweden

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