Biology Public Lecture Series 2016

11th Oct 2016, 5:00pm - 7:00pm

Technology Hub

credit: © Steve Jurvetson -

credit: © Steve Jurvetson –

Living on the Edge: Life in high salinity environments – Dr André Antunes

Nature never ceases to amaze in both its astonishing resourcefulness and enormous flexibility. The long-standing assumption of life as being picky and frail has been clearly disproven. The advent of modern microbiology in the last few decades, only possible with the new tools provided by molecular biology, gave us a whole new perspective of Earth’s biosphere. Microorganisms were shown to be (by far) the dominant forms of life in our planet and discovered to populate and thrive in virtually every corner of our planet, including several inhospitable ones, previously thought sterile due to the harshness of their conditions.

Organisms that populate, and prosper under “extreme” environmental conditions, ranging from subfreezing polar deserts, to the sulphurous, boiling waters of a hot spring, to concentrated brines and abyssal environments, are usually called extremophiles (literally meaning “extreme loving”). The discovery of new extreme environments and their study expand our knowledge on the evolution, diversity, and resilience of Life. Furthermore, they also provide precious analogues for Life on Mars, and beyond.

This seminar will present an overview of the latest findings, current challenges, and future perspectives when studying the biology of unusual extreme environments, with a focus on research on high salinity locations and the deep-sea anoxic brines of the Red Sea. These are considered to be some of the harshest environments known on our planet due to the conjugation of high salinity, increased temperature, high concentration of heavy metals, high pressure and anoxia. Such conditions make them a privileged location for novel discoveries in the field of microbiology and biotechnology.

Arrival is from 17:00 with food and refreshments in the Biosciences Foyer with the public lecture at 17:30 in B001, Business School. For more information please email

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