Synopses & Reviews
Can life exist in the Antarctic ice, in the deep subsurface, in dilute sulfuric acid, in hot springs -- even on Mars? What degree of high or low temperature, pressure, or salt concentration can living cells tolerate? In recent years, scientists have discovered many single-cell creatures that exist in -- in fact, are perfectly adapted to -- extreme environments that were considered uninhabitable just one or two decades ago. In Life on the Edge, author Michael Gross explores how microorganisms adapt to their hostile environments and how they affect our current definition of the "normal" conditions for life. He also describes the vast implications of these extremophiles and other amazing creatures -- from potential breakthroughs in medicine and biotechnology to the search for life elsewhere in the universe.
This book describes the most hostile habitats of our environment and their most hardened inhabitants. The survival strategies which these so-called extremophiles have developed are analyzed in a way accessible to the lay reader but still in touch with the latest research news, including for instance, research on heat-shock proteins and genome sequencing. Michael Gross describes the significance of extremophiles and extreme conditions for biotechnology, medicine, and research into the origin and early evolution of life. Finally, the book takes us into space to explore the possibility of life on other planets including Mars, and the search for habitable planets in other solar systems.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 175-187) and index.