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Of Archaeal Periplasm and Iconoclasm

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Moselio Schaechter of the Small Things Considered blog reviews the surprising findings in the paper "Energized outer membrane and spatial separation of metabolic processes in the hyperthermophilic Archaeon Ignicoccus hospitalis" published in the recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Snippet:

"Biology is the iconoclast’s paradise. Over and over, cherished beliefs, some dating back for centuries, fall to the ground as exceptions to the rule are discovered. To the long list of such exceptions, we now add the finding by groups in Regensburg and Frankfurt that the outer membrane of an archaeon, Ignicoccus hospitalis, is energized and capable of generating ATP. Granted, this is a hyperthermophile who helped shatter the ancient belief that life at high temperatures is not possible, thus hardly a conformist. But this discovery is, to say the least, unexpected."

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