Biotechnology: In Industry, Extremophiles Begin to Make Their Mark

Science  02 May 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5313, pp. 705-706
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5313.705

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Companies are showing a growing interest in these enzymes from microbes that live in extreme environments--from hot springs to alkaline lakes. The enzymes can work at more than 100 degrees Celsius or at a pH of 10. New research initiatives, new companies, even a new journal-- Extremophiles, launched in February--are melding basic biological studies with commercial development. Research agencies are surveying the natural world with renewed vigor and are finding rapid new ways to characterize and produce extremozymes. Such proteins could help process chemicals or food, or even lead to new classes of antibiotics.