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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 909312, 7 pages
Review Article

Biotechnological Applications Derived from Microorganisms of the Atacama Desert

1Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
2Centro de Investigación del Medio Ambiente (CENIMA), Universidad Arturo Prat, 1110939 Iquique, Chile

Received 7 April 2014; Revised 29 June 2014; Accepted 7 July 2014; Published 23 July 2014

Academic Editor: Ameur Cherif

Copyright © 2014 Armando Azua-Bustos and Carlos González-Silva. 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.


The Atacama Desert in Chile is well known for being the driest and oldest desert on Earth. For these same reasons, it is also considered a good analog model of the planet Mars. Only a few decades ago, it was thought that this was a sterile place, but in the past years fascinating adaptations have been reported in the members of the three domains of life: low water availability, high UV radiation, high salinity, and other environmental stresses. However, the biotechnological applications derived from the basic understanding and characterization of these species, with the notable exception of copper bioleaching, are still in its infancy, thus offering an immense potential for future development.