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Extremophiles

The establishment of this research unit represents a new challenge recently taken by CECs inspired by the realization that Chile is gifted by the presence of a variety of extreme habitats such as highland salt lakes, continental glaciers, Antarctic ice masses and waters of volcanic origin. These environments are natural laboratories of incalculable scientific value for the study of life under extreme conditions and have a relevant biotechnological potential. These communities of microscopic organisms that inhabit the extreme environments of our country, however, remain poorly explored. The present work group has naturally emerged from CECs capabilities in molecular genetics and bioinformatics, and from the presence of the Glaciology and Climate Change laboratory that undertakes world-class research exploring the remote environments inhabited by extremophile organisms. The research lines of this unit encompass from the study of extreme microorganism communities, to the identification of new types of microorganisms and their evolutionary and physiological mechanisms. In collaboration with CECs glaciologists we explore the use of temperate continental glacier microorganisms as paleoclimatic markers.