Extreme environments

Extreme environmentsExtreme environments support communities at the limits of life and the species living there called extremophiles. These extremophiles provide insights into how plant and animal communities will respond to environmental change and have potential uses in the restoration of degraded environments. Sea ice supports unique assemblages of microbes that form the basic food supply for Antarctic coastal food-webs. Our scientists are studying responses of these microbial ‘canaries’ to environmental changes.

Saline soils are increasing around the world through poor land irrigation practices and desertification. Our ecologists and physiologists are investigating ways to develop salinity tolerance in plants by studying the red-pigmented leaves of the native ice plant that has a remarkably high tolerance to salty soils.