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A hyperthermophile is an organism that thrives in extremely hot environments— from 60 degrees C (140 degrees F) upwards. An optimal temperature for the existence of hyperthermophiles is above 80°C (176°F). Hyperthermophiles are a subset of extremophiles, micro-organisms within the domain Archaea, although some bacteria are able to tolerate temperatures of around 100°C (212°F), too. Many hyperthermophiles are also able to withstand other environmental extremes such as high acidity or radiation levels.



Hyperthermophiles were first discovered by Thomas D. Brock in 1969, in hot springs in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.[1] Since then, more than fifty species have been discovered. The most hardy hyperthermophiles yet discovered live on the superheated walls of deep-sea hydrothermal vents, requiring temperatures of at least 90°C for survival. An extraordinary heat-tolerant hyperthermophile is the recently-discovered Strain 121[2] which has been able to double its population during 24 hours in an autoclave at 121°C (hence its name); the current record growth temperature is 122°C, for Methanopyrus kandleri.

Although no hyperthermophile has yet been discovered living at temperatures above 122°C, their existence is very possible (Strain 121 survived being heated to 130°C for two hours, but was not able to reproduce until it had been transferred into a fresh growth medium, at a relatively-cooler 103°C). However, it is thought unlikely that microbes could survive at temperatures above 150°C, as the cohesion of DNA and other vital molecules begins to break down at this point.


Early research into hyperthermophiles speculated that their genome could be characterized by high guanine-cytosine content; however, recent studies show that "there is no obvious correlation between the GC content of the genome and the optimal environmental growth temperature of the organism."[3]

The protein molecules in the hyperthermophiles exhibit hyperthermostability—that is, they can maintain structural stability (and therefore function) at high temperatures. Such proteins are homologous to their functional analogues in organisms which thrive at lower temperatures, but have evolved to exhibit optimal function at much greater temperatures. Most of the low-temperature homologues of the hyperthermostable proteins would be denatured above 60°C. Such hyperthermostable proteins are often commercially important, as chemical reactions proceed faster at high temperatures. The genomic signature of hyperthermophilic adaptation is characterized by the overrepresentation of purine bases in protein coding sequences and higher GC-content in tRNA/rRNA sequences. [4]

Cell structure

Cell membrane contains high levels of saturated fatty acids and is usually arranged in a C40 monolayer to retain its shape at high temperatures.

Specific hyperthermophiles

See also


  1. ^ Brock, Thomas D. (Mar. 1998). "Early Days in Yellowstone Microbiology" (). ASM News (American Society for Microbiology) 64 (3): 137–140.  
  2. ^ Microbe from depths takes life to hottest known limit
  3. ^ High guanine-cytosine content is not an adaptation to high temperature: a comparative analysis amongst prokaryotes
  4. ^ "Analysis of Nanoarchaeum equitans genome and proteome composition: indications for hyperthermophilic and parasitic adaptation."
  • Holt JG (editor) (1994). Bergey's Manual of Determinative Bacteriology (9th ed.). Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 0-683-00603-7.  
  • Madigan, Michael; Martinko, John (editors) (2005). Brock Biology of Microorganisms (11th ed.). Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-144329-1.  

Simple English

, Yellowstone National Park]] Hyperthermophiles are extremophile[1] organisms that live best in very hot environments – from 60°C (140°F) up to 100°C (212°F). The best temperature for hyperthermophiles to grow at is around 80°C (176°F). Hyperthermophiles are mostly in the Archaea domain, but some bacteria are able to tolerate temperatures of around 100°C (212°F) as well. Many hyperthermophiles are also able to tolerate other environmental extremes, like high acidity or radiation levels.


  1. organisms that live in an extreme environment


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