Adaptations of archaeal and bacterial membranes to variations in temperature, pH and pressure

Melvin F. Siliakus*, John van der Oost, Servé W.M. Kengen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

208 Citations (Scopus)


The cytoplasmic membrane of a prokaryotic cell consists of a lipid bilayer or a monolayer that shields the cellular content from the environment. In addition, the membrane contains proteins that are responsible for transport of proteins and metabolites as well as for signalling and energy transduction. Maintenance of the functionality of the membrane during changing environmental conditions relies on the cell’s potential to rapidly adjust the lipid composition of its membrane. Despite the fundamental chemical differences between bacterial ester lipids and archaeal ether lipids, both types are functional under a wide range of environmental conditions. We here provide an overview of archaeal and bacterial strategies of changing the lipid compositions of their membranes. Some molecular adjustments are unique for archaea or bacteria, whereas others are shared between the two domains. Strikingly, shared adjustments were predominantly observed near the growth boundaries of bacteria. Here, we demonstrate that the presence of membrane spanning ether-lipids and methyl branches shows a striking relationship with the growth boundaries of archaea and bacteria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-670
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Adaptation
  • Archaea
  • Bacteria
  • Lipids
  • Membranes


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