Microbes have been discovered in extraordinarily hostile environments where their continued survival has made demands on their structure and metabolic capability. These organisms, frequently members of the archaea, are those which have the capacity to degrade some of the most hazardous and recalcitrant chemicals in our environment and thus provide a rich source of metabolic capacity to deal with some very unpleasant contaminants. This situation will remain as long as the environments which harbour these invaluable microbes are recognised as such and are not destroyed. Microbial life on this planet, taken as a whole, has an immense capability to degrade noxious contaminants; it is essential to maintain the diversity and to maximise the opportunity for microbes to metabolise the offending carbon source.
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