Extremes, and the organisms who love them

Check out our handy table of the many different types of extremophiles


Type of extremophile The conditions they like Example
Acidophiles Extremely low pH levels Alicyclobacillus, which can grow in acidic fruit juices and survive pasteurisation
Alkaliphiles Extremely high pH levels Microcystis, found in Mono Lake, California
Barophiles Extreme pressure Ocean-dwelling Halomonas salaria, which needs pressures 1,000 times greater than standard atmospheric pressure
Endoliths Extreme rockiness Desulfotomaculum, found four kilometres down in rock at the bottom of a South African gold mine
Halophiles Extreme saltiness Wallemia ichthyophaga, the most halophilic fungus known to exist – in fact it cannot grow without salt
Psychrophiles Extreme cold Chryseobacterium greenlandensis, which can survive at depths of over three kilometres inside a Greenland glacier
Radioresistant microbes Extreme radiation Thermococcus gammatolerans, which can tolerate more than 3,000 times the radiation that would kill a human
Thermophiles Extreme heat Pyrococcus furiosus, which can withstand temperatures of 100°C and was first found near a volcano in Italy
Xerophiles Extreme dryness Wallemia sebi, which can spoil even dried fruit



Further reading

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Space Biology’ in June 2015.

Microbiology, Ecology and environment
Space Biology
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development