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Archaea - Value To Industry And Research

polymerase biology reaction conditions

As a consequence of their ability to thrive in extreme conditions, the Archaea have become increasingly valuable. For example, the DNA polymerase of Thermus aquaticus, an Archaea found in the Yellowstone hot springs, is a heat tolerant enzyme that is crucially important in modern molecular biology laboratories, because of its use in the polymerase chain reaction. Archaea have also become important for commercial purposes. Their enzymes, sometimes called extremozymes, have made their way into laundry detergent, for example, where they digest proteins and lipids in hot water or cold, and in extremely alkaline conditions, thus helping to remove life's little messes.

Cynthia A. Needham


Madigan, Michael T., John M. Martinko, and Jack Parker. Brock Biology of Microorganisms, 9th ed., Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000.

Campbell, Neil A. Biology, 4th ed. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin Cummings, 1996.

Madigan, Michael T., and Barry Marrs. "Extremophiles." Scientific American (April, 1997): 82-87.

The high-salt density of the Dead Sea makes it difficult for humans to swim in its waters. Human bodies are much more buoyant in the Dead Sea waters than in fresh water. It is possible to lay back in the water—floating as if on an air mattress.

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