Life, as we know it, is constrained by various environmental parameters ( physical and chemical) and these vary both in space and time. Combinations of specific ranges for each of these parameters within a particular area define biotopes or environmental conditions. Environments where one or more of the these parameters show values permanently close to the lower or upper limits known for life are considered extreme environments. In 2003, the European Science Foundation ( ESF) initiated a new research support activity " Investigating Life in Extreme Environments" ( ILEE). The key event of this initiative was an interdisciplinary workshop held in November 2005 and attended by 128 European scientists. The headline conclusions of this initiative expressed the need for a more coordinated approach to improved future opportunities for funding research on life in extreme environments. It was emphasised that such an approach should be interdisciplinary. The CAREX project ( Coordination Action for Research Activities on life in Extreme Environments) is an FP7 Coordination Action funded for three years ( 2008- 2010) in the field of life in extreme environments. This interdisciplinary project will i) set up an interactive information platform, ii) develop open databases gathering information on life in extreme environments experts, research projects and specific infrastructures and technologies, iii) identify research priorities in order to define a European roadmap for research on life in extreme environments, and iv) promote the exchange of knowledge through the organisation of field trips, a laboratory seminar, a summer school and the award of short visit grants
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