About the book
The first scientific description of a bacterium that could grow below 0ºC was reported in the year 1902 by Schmidt-Nielsen. Since then, the studies of cold-loving microorganisms have evolved incessantly. In 1975, a first classification was made that differentiated psychrophiles (organisms that lived in a temperature range between below ~ 0º and 20ºC) from psychrotrophs or psychrotolerants (with a wider and higher temperature range between ~ 3º and 40ºC). However, far more important than their optimal growth temperatures are their biochemical differences and their adaptation mechanisms to the environment. Psychrophiles and psychrotrophs live in places as varied as Polar Regions, permafrost soils, mountain glaciers, cold caves, marine sediments and sea ice. These cold ecosystems host a wide diversity of psychrophiles and psychrotrophs, including viruses, archaea, bacteria, and microeukaryotes. Climate change is a serious threat to these environments. Some icy places, such as glaciers, are disappearing and with that, the psychrophiles and psychrotrophs that inhabit them will be lost.
Since the early 1990s, DNA sequencing carried out by Sanger biochemistry methodology has contributed to increasing the knowledge about microorganism diversity in environmental samples. And in the 21st century, the progress in this field of study has been overwhelming thanks to the advancement of techniques that allow their identification by DNA next-generation sequencing, as well as other technologies including microscopy, computation and data storage, and the huge improvement in diverse -omics techniques. All these investigations are intended to answer relevant questions such as: How is the biodiversity of these frozen environments? How have psychrophiles and psychrotrophs come to conquer the most remote places in the biosphere? This review focuses on these new advances as well as the applications of cold-loving microorganisms in various disciplines such as biotechnology, industrial applications and paleoclimatic studies.