Microbial Life Under Pressure

Created by: Scott N. Montross, Montana State University

Pressure has a substantial effect on the physiology and biochemistry of living cells. Microorganisms inhabiting the deep-sea and subsurface of Earth have the ability to survive at hydro- and litho- static pressures greater than 1 atmosphere (atm). Studies of barotolerant (tolerate high pressure) and barophilic (dependent on high pressure) cultures of deep-sea bacteria show that both types are present, and the distribution of these organisms is a function of depth.

-Madigan, M., Martinko, J., Parker, J. 2003. Brock Biology of Microorganisms, tenth edition.

How microbes deal with high pressure

Barotolerant bacteria under high hydrostatic pressure regulate the fluidity of membrane phospholipids to compensate for pressure gradients between the inside of the cell and the environment.

Characterization of organisms by tolerance


High Pressure Sign


Extreme Barophiles-

High Pressure Environment Collections

General Collection: Resources such as news articles, web sites, and reference pages provide a comprehensive array of information about microbes under pressure.

For Educators:This collection includes activities, assignments, and reading materials created specifically for educators.

Advanced Collection: Compiled for professionals and advanced learners, this collection includes resources such as journal articles, academic reviews, and surveys.

Additional Resources

To see a complete collection of resources about Microbial Life in High Pressure Environments search the Microbial Life collection