Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists isolate new antifreeze molecule in Alaska beetle

Date:
December 29, 2009
Source:
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Summary:
Scientists have identified a novel antifreeze molecule in a freeze-tolerant Alaska beetle able to survive temperatures below minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike all previously described biological antifreezes that contain protein, this new molecule, called xylomannan, has little or no protein. It is composed of a sugar and a fatty acid and may exist in new places within the cells of organisms.

Scientists have identified a novel antifreeze molecule in a freeze-tolerant Alaska beetle, Upis ceramboides, able to survive temperatures below minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike all previously described biological antifreezes that contain protein, this new molecule, called xylomannan, has little or no protein. It is composed of a sugar and a fatty acid and may exist in new places within the cells of organisms.
Credit: Todd Sformo and Franziska Kohl

Scientists have identified a novel antifreeze molecule in a freeze-tolerant Alaska beetle able to survive temperatures below minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike all previously described biological antifreezes that contain protein, this new molecule, called xylomannan, has little or no protein. It is composed of a sugar and a fatty acid and may exist in new places within the cells of organisms.

Related Articles


"The most exciting part of this discovery is that this molecule is a whole new kind of antifreeze that may work in a different location of the cell and in a different way," said zoophysiologist Brian Barnes, director of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology and one of five scientists who participated in the Alaska Upis ceramboides beetle project.

Just as ice crystals form over ice cream left too long in a freezer, ice crystals in an insect or other organism can draw so much water out of the organism's cells that those cells die. Antifreeze molecules function to keep small ice crystals small or to prevent ice crystals from forming at all. They may help freeze-tolerant organisms survive by preventing freezing from penetrating into cells, a lethal condition. Other insects use these molecules to resist freezing by supercooling when they lower their body temperature below the freezing point without becoming solid.

UAF graduate student and project collaborator Todd Sformo found that the Alaska Upis beetle, which has no common name, first freezes at about minus 18.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the lab and survives temperatures down to about 104 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

"It seems paradoxical that we find an antifreeze molecule in an organism that wants to freeze and that's adapted to freezing," said Barnes, whose research group is involved in locating insects, determining their strategies of overwintering and identifying the mechanisms that help them get through the winter

A possible advantage of this novel molecule comes from it having the same fatty acid that cells membranes do. This similarity, says Barnes, may allow the molecule to become part of a cell wall and protect the cell from internal ice crystal formation. Antifreeze molecules made of proteins may not fit into cell membranes.

"There are many difficult studies ahead," said Barnes. "To find out how common this biologic antifreeze is and how it actually prevents freezing and where exactly it's located."

This project was led by Kent Walters at the University of Notre Dame with collaborators Anthony Serianni and John H. Duman of UND and Barnes and Sformo of UAF and was published in the Dec. 1 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alaska Fairbanks. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alaska Fairbanks. "Scientists isolate new antifreeze molecule in Alaska beetle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214131134.htm>.
University of Alaska Fairbanks. (2009, December 29). Scientists isolate new antifreeze molecule in Alaska beetle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214131134.htm
University of Alaska Fairbanks. "Scientists isolate new antifreeze molecule in Alaska beetle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214131134.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins