Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why some insects can survive freezing: Huge X-ray microscope provides clues

Date:
December 19, 2009
Source:
University of Western Ontario
Summary:
Using a microscope the size of a football field, researchers are studying why some insects can survive freezing, while others cannot. Why is this important? Because the common fruit fly is one of the bugs that cannot survive freezing and the little creature just so happens to share much of the same genetic makeup as humans, therefore finding a way to freeze them for research purposes is a top priority for geneticists the world over.

Synchrotron x-ray visualisation of ice formation in insects during lethal and non-lethal freezing.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Western Ontario

Using a microscope the size of a football field, researchers from The University of Western Ontario are studying why some insects can survive freezing, while others cannot.

Why is this important? Because the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is one of the bugs that cannot survive freezing and the little creature just so happens to share much of the same genetic makeup as humans, therefore finding a way to freeze them for research purposes is a top priority for geneticists the world over (about 75 per cent of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies).

And why the large microscope?

"It's the only one in the world that's set up for this kind of imaging on insects," says lead researcher Brent Sinclair of his team's use of the Advanced Photon Source (APS), located near Chicago, Illinois. The APS generates high-energy x-rays that allow Sinclair and his collaborators to film the formation and spread of ice in real time as the maggots freeze.

An assistant professor in Western's Department of Biology, Sinclair explains that the physical processes of ice formation seem to be consistent among species that do and don't survive freezing. However, it seems that the insects that survive freezing have some control over the process of ice formation. They freeze at consistently higher temperatures than those that don't.

Sinclair says this implies that the main adaptations required to survive freezing are at the cellular or biochemical level, rather than because of fundamental structural differences.

"We're comparing Chymomyza amoena, an insect native to Ontario that survives freezing, with Drosophila melanogaster, because they're very close relatives," says Sinclair. "The idea is to find the magic bullet which allows some bugs to survive freezing and some don't. That's the goal here."

The Western-led research was published in the journal PLoS ONE, an peer-reviewed, open-access resource from the Public Library of Science.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Brent J. Sinclair, Allen G. Gibbs, Wah-Keat Lee, Arun Rajamohan, Stephen P. Roberts, John J. Socha. Synchrotron X-Ray Visualisation of Ice Formation in Insects during Lethal and Non-Lethal Freezing. PLoS ONE, 2009; 4 (12): e8259 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008259

Cite This Page:

University of Western Ontario. "Why some insects can survive freezing: Huge X-ray microscope provides clues." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091218094635.htm>.
University of Western Ontario. (2009, December 19). Why some insects can survive freezing: Huge X-ray microscope provides clues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091218094635.htm
University of Western Ontario. "Why some insects can survive freezing: Huge X-ray microscope provides clues." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091218094635.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 24, 2014) Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of healthy ingredients, plus they taste great! Howdini has a trick for making the perfect single-size smoothie that will save you time on cleanup too! All you need is a blender and a mason jar. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. 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:
from the past week

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