Life in Extreme Environments (LEXEN) is an emerging area of research in which Europe has considerable expertise but a relatively fragmented research infrastructure. The science of such environments has enormous relevance for our knowledge of the diversity and environmental limits of microbial, plant and animal life and the novel strategies employed for survival and growth. Such studies are essential in understanding how life established on the early Earth and in assessing the possibilities for life on other planetary bodies. These environments are also a rich source of novel exploitable compounds. The Work Programme identifies a need for better coordination of LEXEN research and CAREX aims to address this need by developing a clearly identifiable, dynamic and durable community. Establishing this community will encourage greater inter-disciplinarity and increasing knowledge of extreme environments. It will provide a target for young career scientists and allow a more focussed dialogue with other science areas, with funding agencies, with industrial groups and with international organisations outside Europe. CAREX deliverables will include a strategic roadmap for European LEXEN research (including enabling technologies), diverse opportunities for knowledge transfer, standardisation of methodologies, encouragement and support for early career scientists and a network of links to relevant organisations. These deliverables together with improved community networking, supported by newsletters, promotional leaflets, a series science publications and an interactive web portal, will help consolidate the community and its identity. Outcomes will be facilitated through science/technology workshops, diverse forums, field/laboratory protocol intercomparisons, a summer school and individual grants to facilitate knowledge transfer. CAREX has evolved with the key players from the highly successful ESF “Investigating Life in Extreme Environments” initiative .
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