Data on extracellular compounds of bacteria involved in their adaptation to unfavorable environmental conditions are reviewed, including high or low temperatures, growth-inhibiting or bactericidal concentrations of toxic substances (oxidants, phenols, and heavy metals) and antibiotics, deviation of pH values from optimum levels, and salinity of the medium. Chemically, the compounds identified belong to diverse types (proteins, hydrocarbons, organic acids, nucleotides, amino acids, lipopeptides, volatile substances, etc.). Most of them remain unidentified, and their properties are studied using biological testing.
It has been proposed to view extracellular adaptation factors (EAFs) as a new group of biologically active substances. EAFs may be divided into several subgroups by the mechanism of action. These subgroups include protectors (stabilizers), signaling molecules inducing defense responses, regulators (e.g., adhesion regulators) not acting as inducers, and antidotes (neutralizers).
The fields of EAF study include screening (search for new compounds using biological tests), identification, and research into the mechanisms of action.
EAFs may find use in biotechnology, medicine, agriculture, and environmental protection.