Over the past 50 years there has been much effort invested in the investigation of the ecology of sea ice. Sea ice is an ephemeral feature of the Arctic and Southern Oceans and smaller water bodies such as the Baltic and Caspian Seas. The semisolid ice matrix provides a range of habitats in which a diverse range of microbial organisms thrive. In the past 5 years there has been considerable steps forward in sea-ice research, in particular regarding the analysis of sea-ice microstructure and the investigation of the diversity and adaptation of microbial communities. These studies include: (i) controlled simulated and in situ studies on a micrometer scale to unravel the dynamic of the microhabitat with consequences for the organisms; (ii) the introduction of molecular approaches to uncover the diversity of uncultured still unknown microorganisms; and (iii) studies into the molecular adaptation of selected model organisms to the extreme environment. This minireview presents some of the most recent findings from sea-ice studies within the framework of these aims.