Microalgae in polar regions: Linking functional genomics and physiology with environmental conditions

Thomas Mock, David N. Thomas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

14 Citations (Scopus)


Protists inhabiting polar regions have been the subject of intense interest ever sincethe first explorers ventured into the inhospitable seas of the Arctic and Southern Oceans (Ehrenberg 1841, 1853; Hooker 1847; Sutherland 1852). The first records of microbial biodiversity in extreme environments were made with the most basic of microscopes, and until the mid 1900s (ultimately when scientific programs in polar regions became more common) much of the work on protists remained largely descriptive and restricted to the more robust physiological experiments that could be attempted under unfavorable field conditions. Despite the fact that there have been nearly 170 years of research into algae living in the Arctic and Antarctic, it is only in the last 20 years that there has been a revolution in laboratory facilities available at remote sites, and of course the technological advances that allow collection, extraction and subsequent cultivation of organisms in home laboratories. Coupled to this, we now have sophisticated molecular tools to determine the true extent of this diversity and, in turn, we know the molecular and physiological capabilities that permit life to continue at the extremes of low temperature. That is not to belittle the need to still look down the microscopes as works such as Scott and Marchant (2005) eloquently demonstrate.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPsychrophiles
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Biodiversity to Biotechnology
PublisherSpringer Berlin / Heidelberg
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9783540743347
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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