Heterotrophic Growth Dominates in the Most Extremotolerant Extremophile Cultures

Adrianna Matthews, Jonathan Lima-Zaloumis, R. Vincent Debes, Grayson Boyer, Elizabeth Trembath-Reichert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Due to their ability to withstand "extreme"conditions, Earth's extremophilic organisms can constrain habitability windows for other planetary systems. However, there are many other considerations to microbial growth requirements beyond environmental extremes, such as nutrient availability. Here, we conduct a literature review of the most extremotolerant extremophiles in culture, since working with cultured organisms allows environmental and nutrient variables to be constrained with a high level of specificity. We generated a database that includes the isolation environment, carbon source(s) used, and growth preferences across temperature, pressure, salinity, and pH extremes. We found that the "most extreme"conditions were primarily sustained by heterotrophs, except for hyperthermophiles. These results highlight the importance of considering organic carbon availability when using extremophiles for habitability constraints. We also interrogated polyextreme potential across temperature, pressure, salinity, and pH conditions. Our findings suggest that the investigation of growth tolerance rather than growth optimum may reveal wider habitability parameters. Overall, these results highlight the potential polyextremes, environments, nutrient requirements, and additional analyses that could improve the application of cultured investigations to astrobiology questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-459
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023


  • Autotroph
  • Extremophile
  • Extremotolerant
  • Habitability
  • Heterotroph

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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