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Study of round worm that returns to life after freezing

Date:
January 20, 2017
Source:
British Antarctic Survey
Summary:
The first molecular study of an organism able to survive intracellular freezing (freezing within its cells) is published in a new paper that represents a milestone in scientists’ understanding of an extraordinary adaptation.
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Antarctic nematode worms photographed under the microscope.
Credit: David Wharton

The first molecular study of an organism able to survive intracellular freezing (freezing within its cells) is published this week by British Antarctic Survey (BAS), in collaboration with researchers from the University of Otago, New Zealand. The paper represents a milestone in scientists' understanding of an extraordinary adaptation.

The tiny Antarctic nematode, more commonly known as a round worm, (Panagrolaimus sp. DAW1) was cultured from a coastal Antarctic penguin rookery at McMurdo Sound, and is the best-documented organism able to survive the disruptions brought about by total freezing. The nematode is also able to undergo a form of freeze avoidance by eliminating all of its water content, called cryoprotective dehydration. However, it is the ability to survive intracellular freezing which makes this organism really stand out.

Exploring gene expression patterns, the researchers were able to show how molecularly active the nematodes are while in a frozen state, highlighting certain key genes enabling them to endure such an extreme physical state.

This is the first study of its kind, shedding light on a possibly rare adaptation, which could lead to new applications.


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Materials provided by British Antarctic Survey. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael A.S. Thorne, Anna Seybold, Craig Marshall, David Wharton. Molecular snapshot of an intracellular freezing event in an Antarctic nematode. Cryobiology, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.cryobiol.2017.01.003

Cite This Page:

British Antarctic Survey. "Study of round worm that returns to life after freezing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 January 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170120154254.htm>.
British Antarctic Survey. (2017, January 20). Study of round worm that returns to life after freezing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170120154254.htm
British Antarctic Survey. "Study of round worm that returns to life after freezing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170120154254.htm (accessed March 23, 2017).