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Access to the article is free, however registration and sign-in are required. Microbial life can persist under physicochemical conditions that challenge the very fabric of biological structure and function. In habitats of extreme temperatures, pH's, and salinities, microbes are often the sole inhabitants. But microbial life also exists at another type of extreme: under conditions that yield barely enough free energy for cell maintenance, much less growth. In a recent study of the full genome sequence of the anaerobic bacterium Syntrophus aciditrophicus, McInerney et al. reported new insights into some of the fundamental machinery required for living at life's thermodynamic edge.
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