Tectonic splitting of the Arabian and African plates originated the Red Sea together with one of the most unique, remote, and extreme environments on earth: deep-sea anoxic brine lakes. They combine multiple extremes namely increased salinity (7-fold), temperature (up to 70°C), concentration of heavy metals (1,000- to 10,000-fold), and hydrostatic pressure.1
Despite such harsh conditions, they harbour an unexpectedly high biodiversity and are teeming with life. Increased interest in their microbiology led to multiple recent and on-going studies. Highlights of this research include: the isolation, physiological characterisation and genome sequencing of unusual new extremophilic microbes; the identification of several novel phylogenetic lineages; and on-going cultivation- and molecular-based assessment of microbial community variation between and within different brines.2
The uniqueness of these environments offers a high potential for discovery of new microbes, strategies and biomolecules to cope with extreme conditions, and biotechnological applications.