Strain 121 (Geogemma barossii) is a single-celled microbe, of the domain Archaea. First discovered 200 miles (320 km) off Puget Sound in a hydrothermal vent, it is a hyperthermophile, able to survive and reproduce at 121 °C (250 °F), hence its name. It was (at the time of discovery) the only known form of life that can tolerate such high temperatures. 130 °C (266 °F) is proven to be only biostatic for Strain 121, meaning that although growth is halted, the archaeum remains viable, and can resume reproducing once it has been transferred to a cooler medium.
The ability to grow at 121 °C is significant because medical equipment is exposed to this temperature for sterilization in an autoclave. Prior to the 2003 discovery of Strain 121, a fifteen-minute exposure to autoclave temperatures was believed to kill all living organisms. However, strain 121 is non-infectious because it can't grow at any temperature near 37 C.
- Methanopyrus kandleri Strain 116
- Kashefi, Kazem; Lovley, Derek R. (2003). "Extending the upper temperature limit for life". Science 301 (5635): 934. doi:10.1126/science.1086823. PMID 12920290.
- Guardian News
- Pulse of the Planet
- New Scientist article
- Science Daily article
- NSF "Microbe from Depths Takes Life to Hottest Known Limit"