The large diversity of marine microorganisms harboured by oceans plays an important role in planet sustainability by driving globally important biogeochemical cycles; all primary and most secondary production in the oceans is performed by microorganisms. The largest part of the planet is covered by cold environments; consequently, cold-adapted microorganisms have crucial functional roles in globally important environmental processes and biogeochemical cycles cold-adapted extremophiles are a remarkable model to shed light on the molecular basis of survival at low temperature. The indigenous populations of Antarctic and Arctic microorganisms are endowed with genetic and physiological traits that allow them to live and effectively compete at the temperatures prevailing in polar regions. Some genes, e.g. glycosyltransferases and glycosylsynthetases involved in the architecture of the cell wall, may have been acquired/retained during evolution of polar strains or lost in tropical strains. This present work focusses on temperature and its role in shaping microbial adaptations; however, in assessing the impacts of climate changes on microbial diversity and biogeochemical cycles in polar oceans, it should not be forgotten that physiological studies need to include the interaction of temperature with other abiotic and biotic factors.