Molecules found in bacteria located at the polar extremes could potentially produce and enhance a range of biobased products, according to new research.

Called biosurfactants, biotechnologist Amedea Perfumo of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences pinpoints the ones she says have ‘an extra feature’ – their ability to operate in freezing temperatures. She believes they ‘have a tremendous potential’ and boast a variety of applications, such as making ‘cold-active biosurfactant [green] detergents’ that would work at low temperatures; and as an ingredient to improve the performance of biofuels in cold conditions.

Amedea said: “Scientists who don’t have the option to go personally to the polar regions and take samples can simply get organisms from culture collections. It’s in reach for everybody.”

And while she admits it’s early days, Amedea insists the potential is huge.

“I think that with a little work and a little patience and especially with joint forces, we can take a bold step in the near future. It will really be a grand challenge for science and technology,” she added.