Research in extreme environments has substantially expanded our understanding of the ecology and evolution of life on Earth, but a major group of organisms has been largely overlooked: microbial eukaryotes (i.e., protists). In this Perspective, we summarize data from over 80 studies of protists in extreme environments and identify focal lineages that are of significant interest for further study, including clades within Echinamoebida, Heterolobosea, Radiolaria, Haptophyta, Oomycota, and Cryptophyta. We argue that extreme environments are prime sampling targets to fill gaps in the eukaryotic tree of life and to increase our understanding of the ecology, metabolism, genome architecture, and evolution of eukaryotic life.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Physics and Astronomy