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Media Advisory 07-012

X-treme Life on the Web

An illustrated overview of research on extremophile organisms

Research on "extremophiles" is redefining the limits of life on Earth.

Research on "extremophiles" is redefining the limits of life on Earth.

April 25, 2007

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

On Wednesday, April 25, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Web site will debut a new, fully illustrated, multimedia Special Report describing research on strange organisms that can live in ferocious extremes of cold, heat, pressure, acidity and more.

Titled "X-treme Microbes," the report focuses on the recent discovery of creatures that dwell in solid rock two miles deep in the Earth and survive by "eating" the breakdown products of radioactivity. In addition, the Special Report provides a pictorial overview of what science now knows about other kinds of organisms -- called "extremophiles" -- that are redefining the limits of life on Earth and forcing scientists to reconsider the probability of life on other worlds.

Illustrated with dozens of photographs of these remarkable creatures and their surroundings, the Special Report also contains vividly descriptive animations of microbial living conditions, and a video sequence showing how scientists journeyed to the bottom of a deep gold mine in South Africa in search of the "radioactivity-eating" microbes.

The report provides numerous links to other Web-based resources and can serve as a reference for reporters and editors seeking information and graphics on this subject. Like all of NSF's Special Reports, "X-treme Microbes" will be updated and expanded as new discoveries occur.


Media Contacts
Dana Topousis, National Science Foundation, (703) 292-7750, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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