noun, plural: alkaliphiles
An organism that can live and thrive in an alkaline environment
An alkaliphile is an organism that can live and thrive in an alkaline environment, i.e. with pH ranging from 8.5 to 11. Examples of an alkaline environment are the Soda Lake in Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, the Octopus Spring located in Yellowstone National Park, and the Mono Lake in California’s Eastern Sierra. Carbonate-rich soils are also a typical habitat of alkaliphiles.
Alkaliphiles are able to survive in an alkaline environment because of a membrane system that actively pumps H+ across the cell membrane into their cytoplasm and therefore able to maintain pH of about 8.0.1 Others have evolved pH stable enzymes that help them survive an alkaline environment.
Alkaliphiles may be grouped according to their alkalinity requirement for growth and survival:
- obligate alkaliphiles, i.e. those requiring high pH
- facultative alkaliphiles, i.e. those that can survive in both alkaline and normal conditions
- haloalkaliphiles, i.e. those requiring high salt content for survival
Examples of alkaliphiles are Anabaena sp. and Microcystis sp., which are blue-green algal species.
1 alkaliphile. (n.d.) Segen’s Medical Dictionary. (2011). Retrieved from ://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/alkaliphile.