Bioenergetics and solute uptake under extreme conditions

Extremophiles. 2001 Oct;5(5):285-94. doi: 10.1007/s007920100214.


The ion and particularly the proton and sodium ion permeabilities of cytoplasmic membranes play crucial roles in the bioenergetics of microorganisms. The proton and sodium permeabilities of membranes increase with temperature. Psychrophilic and mesophilic bacteria and mesophilic, (hyper)thermophilic, and halophilic archaea are capable of adjusting the lipid composition of their membranes in such a way that the proton permeability at the respective growth temperature remains constant (homeoproton permeability). Thermophilic bacteria are an exception. They rely on the less permeable sodium ions to generate a sodium motive force, which is subsequently used to drive energy-requiring membrane-bound processes. Transport of solutes across bacterial and archaeal membranes is mainly catalyzed by primary ATP-driven transport systems or by proton- or sodium-motive-force-driven secondary transport systems. Unlike most bacteria, hyperthermophilic bacteria and archaea prefer primary uptake systems. Several high-affinity ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters for sugars from hyperthermophiles have been identified and characterized. The activities of these ABC transporters allow these organisms to thrive in their nutrient-poor environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Archaea / metabolism*
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Environment
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Temperature


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphate