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Volume 1 (2002), Issue 2, Pages 75-86
Review Article

Perspectives on biotechnological applications of archaea

Department of Experimental Medicine, Section of Biotechnology and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine, II University of Naples, via Costantinopoli 16, 80138 Naples, Italy

Received 15 October 2001; Accepted 6 May 2002

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Many archaea colonize extreme environments. They include hyperthermophiles, sulfur-metabolizing thermophiles, extreme halophiles and methanogens. Because extremophilic microorganisms have unusual properties, they are a potentially valuable resource in the development of novel biotechnological processes. Despite extensive research, however, there are few existing industrial applications of either archaeal biomass or archaeal enzymes. This review summarizes current knowledge about the biotechnological uses of archaea and archaeal enzymes with special attention to potential applications that are the subject of current experimental evaluation. Topics covered include cultivation methods, recent achievements in genomics, which are of key importance for the development of new biotechnological tools, and the application of wild-type biomasses, engineered microorganisms, enzymes and specific metabolites in particular bioprocesses of industrial interest.