Psychrophilic Microorganisms in Alpine Soils



The Earth is a cold planet. About 85% of the biosphere is exposed to temperatures below 5°C throughout the year. Cold habitats span from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from high mountain range environments to the deep ocean. The major fraction of this low-temperature environment is represented by the deep sea (nearly 75% of the Earth is covered by oceans and 90% of the ocean volume is below 5°C), followed by snow (35% of land surface), permafrost (24% of land surface), sea ice (13% of the Earth’s surface) and glaciers (10% of land surface). Psychrophilic microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea, yeasts, filamentous fungi and algae, have successfully colonized these cold environments, because they evolved special mechanisms to overcome the life-endangering influence of low temperature. This chapter describes mechanisms of microbial cold adaptation and aspects of microbial activity and biodiversity in cold alpine soils.


Membrane Fluidity Subzero Temperature Psychrophilic Bacterium Snow Mold Cold Climate Condition 
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© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of MicrobiologyUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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