Microbes From Hell

Hardcover | October 7, 2016

byPatrick ForterreTranslated byTeresa Lavender Fagan

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At the close of the 1970s, the two-domain classification scheme long used by most biologists—prokaryotes versus eukaryotes—was upended by the discovery of an entirely new group of organisms: archaea. Initially thought to be bacteria, these single-celled microbes—many of which were first found in seemingly unlivable habitats like the volcanic hot springs of Yellowstone National Park—were in fact so different at molecular and genetic levels as to constitute a separate, third domain beside bacteria and eukaryotes. Their discovery sparked a conceptual revolution in our understanding of the evolution of life, and Patrick Forterre was—and still is—at the vanguard of this revolution.

In Microbes from Hell, one of the world’s leading experts on archaea and hyperthermophiles, or organisms that have evolved to flourish in extreme temperatures, offers a colorful, engaging account of this taxonomic upheaval. Blending tales of his own search for thermophiles with discussions of both the physiological challenges thermophiles face and the unique adaptations they have evolved to live in high-temperature environments, Forterre illuminates our developing understanding of the relationship between archaea and the rest of Earth’s organisms. From biotech applications to the latest discoveries in thermophile research, from microbiomes to the communities of organisms that dwell on deep-sea vents, Forterre’s exploration of life-forms that seem to thrive at the mouth of hell provides a glimpse into the early days of Earth, offering deep insight into what life may have looked like in the extreme environments of our planet’s dawn.

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From the Publisher

At the close of the 1970s, the two-domain classification scheme long used by most biologists—prokaryotes versus eukaryotes—was upended by the discovery of an entirely new group of organisms: archaea. Initially thought to be bacteria, these single-celled microbes—many of which were first found in seemingly unlivable habitats like the vo...

Patrick Forterre, former head of the Microbiology Department at the Institut Pasteur, is presently professor at the Institut Pasteur and professor emeritus at the Université Paris-Saclay, France. Teresa Lavender Fagan is a freelance translator living in Chicago; she has translated numerous books for the University of Chicago Press and ...

other books by Patrick Forterre

Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:October 7, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022626582X

ISBN - 13:9780226265827

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Table of Contents

Prologue
1          A Bit of History: Microbes and Humans
2          Hunting Hyperthermophiles and Their Viruses: From the Great Depths to the Laboratory
3          How Do You Live in Hell?
4          The Universal Tree of Life: Where to Place Microbes from Hell and Their Viruses?
5          The Universal Tree of Life: Are Microbes from Hell Our Ancestors?
Epilogue
Acknowledgments
Notes
References
Index
 

Editorial Reviews

“Scientists and industrial researchers study these incredible microbes to tap into the extraordinary strength of their proteins for numerous applications. Through the proteins they produce, these microbes have in fact already paved the way for the sequencing of the human genome and the identification of genetic fingerprints in a hair or sperm! Where do these extreme microbes come from, how are they related to us, how have they adapted to the diabolical conditions of their environments, and have they always lived there?—questions to understand how life began on Earth.”