Fish with antifreeze in their veins found under Greenland glacier

A new study found that juvenile variegated snail fish (Liparis gibbus) contained the highest levels of

expression of antifreeze proteins ever reported.

Just like antifreeze regulates temperaturecar engine under extreme conditions, some species have evolved to have similar protection. This is especially true for those animals that live in cold habitats, such as the polar waters off the coast of Greenland.

“Antifreeze proteins stick to the surfacesmall ice crystals and slow or prevent them from becoming larger and more dangerous, explains study co-author David Gruber, a research fellow at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). “Fish from both the North Pole and the South Pole independently developed these proteins.”

Study site where Liparis gibbus was found. Image courtesy of Peter Krug

According to the National Science Foundation,antifreeze proteins were first discovered in some Antarctic fish almost 50 years ago. Unlike some cold-blooded reptiles and insects, fish cannot survive when their bodily fluids freeze.

“The fact that different antifreeze proteins have evolvedindependently in a number of different and not closely related fish shows how important they are for the survival of these organisms in extreme habitats,” said John Sparks, curator of the AMNH Division of Ichthyology and co-author of the study.

Liparis gibbus produce antifreeze proteins likeany others, and then release them into the bloodstream. However, the study showed that individuals of this species contain the highest levels of expression of antifreeze proteins that scientists have observed.

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