Beatriz Díez Moreno
P. Universidad Católica de Chile.
Spanish biologist Beatriz Díez, a specialist in microbial ecology who studies microorganisms in extremophilic environments, decided to work in Chile for two reasons: first, the country itself offers an amalgam of extreme climatic, geographic, and biochemical conditions; and second, because for her, the scant knowledge of how microbiota ecosystems adapt and survive here needs to be expanded and considered part of the World Heritage.
Her research focuses on environmental microbiology that arises in polar systems and in cold and/or very warm thermal alpine systems, such as those located in the Atacama, the world’s most arid desert, in some of the country’s 80 active volcanoes, and in the ancient glaciers of Antarctica and the subantarctic. Because of this, Díez and her team have devoted themselves to obtaining new information about microorganisms that live under extreme conditions, recording their adaptations, diversity, function, biogeography, and relations with their environment, including with other organisms in the same place, as well as their potential applications.
While the discovery and study of extremophiles contributes to the investigation of extraterrestrial life, this kind of research can also be used to improve processes in the mining, wine, food, cosmetics, and other industries that use cold or heat chains in their processes or involve exposure to extreme climatic conditions.
“Any microorganism capable of living in an extremophile system has enzymes and adaptive survival strategies that are different from those that can be found in less adverse environments, so this kind of knowledge should be highly valued for assessing and improving industrial processes conducted at high or low temperatures or in very acidic or alkaline contexts,” affirms the microbial ecologist.
This research could also be applied to studies linked to climate change, given that extremophilic organisms have already developed adaptations to extreme temperatures. Today, Beatriz Díez is convinced that understanding how survival is possible under these kinds of conditions will help to characterize the biochemistry that defines the limits of cellular life, and in turn illuminate what could happen in an environment that may not be extremophilic today, but with the effects of climate change, could become so tomorrow.
Download my resumé.
- Microbial Ecology
- Microbial Evolution
- Environmental Virology
- Global Scientific Networks
EducationPhD Ciéncias Biológicas, 2001
Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, EspañaLicenciada en Biología, 1994
Universidad de Alicante, España