The key difference between extremophiles and hyperthermophiles is that extremophiles are microorganisms that inhabit extreme environments such as hot niches, ice, and salt solutions, while hyperthermophiles are a category of extremophiles that thrive in extremely hot environments such as thermal vents, etc.
Extremophiles are fascinating organisms that thrive in extreme environments where other terrestrial life forms cannot tolerate. Due to this ability, they are exciting research objects. Most extremophiles belong to the domain Archaea. Moreover, they are found in the domains of Bacteria and Eukarya. Among different types of extremophiles, hyperthermophiles are a group of extremophiles that thrive in extremely hot environments, which have temperature as high as 80 0C or above.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Extremophiles
3. What are Hyperthermophiles
4. Similarities Between Extremophiles and Hyperthermophiles
5. Side by Side Comparison – Extremophiles vs Hyperthermophiles in Tabular Form
What are Extremophiles?
Extremophiles are organisms that thrive in extreme environments which are not suited for other organisms. Therefore, extremophiles live under different extreme conditions such as extreme hot niches, ice, and salt solutions, acid and alkaline conditions, toxic waste, organic solvents, heavy metals, or several other habitats. They are present at a depth of 6.7 km inside the Earth crust. Moreover, they are found more than 10 km deep inside the ocean. Furthermore, they can be found in extreme acidic (pH 0) and extreme basic (pH 12.8) conditions. Furthermore, they are present in extreme environments having pressures up to 110 MPa. Not only that, they thrive in hydrothermal vents at 122 0C to frozen seawater of -20 0C.
There are extremophiles in all three domains of Archaea, bacteria and eukarya. Most extremophiles are microorganisms of bacteria and Archaea. However, there are eukaryotic, multicellular extremophiles such as fungi and single-celled protists such as algae and protozoans. Extremophiles are classified based on the environment and optimal growth conditions as thermophiles, psychrophiles, acidophiles, halophiles and barophiles.
What are Hyperthermophiles?
Hyperthermophiles are a group of extremophiles that thrive in extremely hot environments such as hydrothermal vents. Moreover, they are one of the three groups of thermophiles. They live in temperatures between 80 0C to 110 0C. Since hyperthermophiles live in extremely high temperatures, they should have cell components like proteins, nucleic acids and membranes, which are stable and even function best at temperatures around 100 0C. Furthermore, they have enzymes that can function at high temperatures.
Most hyperthermophiles are from the domain Archaea. So far, about 70 species of hyperthermophilic bacteria and archaea are known. Pyrolobus fumarii is a hyperthermophilic archaean that can even thrive at 113 0C. Pyrococcus furiosus, Methanococcus jannaschii and Sulfolubus are three hyperthermophilic archaea. Aquifex pyrophilus and Thermotoga maritima are two bacteria that exhibit the highest growth temperatures of 95 and 90 0C, respectively. Geothermobacterium ferrireducens is another hyperthermophilic bacterium.
What are the Similarities Between Extremophiles and Hyperthermophiles?
- Hyperthermophiles are a group of extremophiles.
- Both types of organisms live in extreme environments.
- They live in environments other terrestrial life forms cannot survive.
- Many extremophiles and hyperthermophiles belong to domain Archaea.
- They have thermally stable versions of enzymes which are commercially advantageous.
What is the Difference Between Extremophiles and Hyperthermophiles?
Extremophiles are organisms, especially microorganisms, that live under extreme conditions. Hyperthermophiles are a group of extremophiles that grow best at temperatures > 80 °C up to 110 °C. So, this is the key difference between extremophiles and hyperthermophiles.
The below infographic summarizes the difference between extremophiles and hyperthermophiles.
Summary – Extremophiles vs Hyperthermophiles
Extremophiles prefer to grow exclusively under extreme conditions. They are found in extreme environments such as hot springs or hydrothermal vents with temperatures close to the boiling point of water or the deep sea where low temperatures are associated with high water pressure and in environments having extreme pH conditions and high pressure and salinity. Hyperthermophiles are a group of extremophiles that thrive in extremely hot environments such as hot springs or hydrothermal vents, which have a temperature of 80 0C or above. Thus, this summarizes the difference between extremophiles and hyperthermophiles.
1. Rampelotto, Pabulo Henrique. “Extremophiles and Extreme Environments.” Life (Basel, Switzerland), MDPI, 7 Aug. 2013, Available here.
2. Bowman, DS. Nichols, et al. “What We Learn from Extremophiles.” ChemTexts, Springer International Publishing, 1 Jan. 1970, Available here.