Blue bloods

A new study demonstrates that the blue oxygen carrying haemocyanin pigment in the blood of an Antarctic octopus (Pareledone charcoti) protect the animals from freezing temperatures. In fact, when compared to other octopus species from warmer climates, they have up to 40% more haemocyanin. Dr. Michael Oellermann, lead study author from Alfred-Wegener-Institute, provided the following quote for a press release: “This is the first study providing clear evidence that the octopods’ blue blood pigment, haemocyanin, undergoes functional changes to improve the supply of oxygen to tissue at sub-zero temperatures.”

Moreover, unlike other octopus species, the study findings demonstrated better oxygen carrying capacity at higher temperatures, a feature that may help the animals cope with changing climates.

Sources:
M Oellermann, B Lieb, HO Pörtner, JM Semmens and FC Mark. Blue blood on ice: modulated blood oxygen transport facilitates cold compensation and eurythermy in an Antarctic octopod. Frontiers in Zoology. 12:6, 2015.

YouTube (video)

Comments

  1. #1 Emma Jepsen
    March 21, 2015

    The part of this finding that I find the most fascinating is the fact that because of their higher percentage of haemocyanin which equips these octopus with the ability to carry more oxygen even at higher temperatures, they may be better able to survive changing ocean temperatures. This could be an invaluable finding upon which many important studies could be conducted tracking these certain octopus’ success throughout varying climate changes due to global warming and comparing them to closely related octopus which do not have as high levels of haemocyanin.
    15074961

  2. #2 Jamie Mollentze
    March 25, 2015

    As I understand it hemocyanin are proteins that transport oxygen throughout the organism, just like the hemoglobin in our bodies. Although hemoglobin and hemocyanin have similar functions they also have many differences. The difference comes in where the organism lives. Hemocyanin is commonly found in crustaceans that live in colder environments with low oxygen pressures.Under these circumstances hemoglobin oxygen transportation is less efficient than hemocyanin oxygen transportation.
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  3. #3 Monaiwa TA
    March 26, 2015

    Since the haemocyanin protein improves oxygen transport at cold temperatures,the rumour about some humans who use protein haemocyanin for oxygen transport could be true i think,but for people living in very cold areas.

  4. #4 S Mngambi
    South Africa
    March 27, 2015

    although heamocyanin protein may not be better than heamogloblin in the amount of oxygen that each protein carries. heamocyanin protein is indeed the reference to the climate change that in occurring as it show better capability to utilize oxygen in both lower and higher temperature.
    10343467

  5. #5 J van Zyl
    March 28, 2015

    Hemocyanin works better in lower oxygen environments than hemoglobin. So although hemocyanin improves oxygen transport at cold temperatures, I do not think it will affect the oxygen transport in a human living in a very cold environment. The reason is that a human living in a cold environment still has a higher oxygen environment, thus hemoglobin will transport the oxygen in the human body.
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  6. #6 Tiane' Schmdit
    Pretoria
    March 29, 2015

    Might it be possible to genetically manipulate this “haemocyanin pigment” and inject it to humans for some sort of benefit? For instance, if people from South Africa, who is used to warm weather conditions, emigrate to Russia, which has a much colder winter than were are used to, to help them resist the cold until they get used to the new conditions? or does this require some research that hasn’t been considered yet? 15008861

  7. #7 Dean Carlisle
    Nelspruit, South Africa
    March 29, 2015

    Clearly Heamocyanin has proven its strong capabilities in resisting up to 40% colder ocean temperatures in this specific octopus species. If this trend of increased heamocyanin is found to carry on in other organisms living in freezing temperatures, could it be isolated and utilised by humans in any way?
    u15028047

  8. #8 Dean Carlisle
    Nelspruit, South Africa
    March 29, 2015

    It is clear the heamocyanin has a great adaptation of being able to help this particular species of octopus survive in very cold temperatures. If more studies are done on other species and it is found that the trend of increased haemocyanine leads to high resistance to cold temperature, could this heamocyanine be isolated for further testing? 15028047

  9. #9 coetzee
    March 29, 2015

    In theory wouldn’t hemocyanin in humans also have an effect on skin colour? it is known as ‘the blue oxygen carrying pigment”. Humans turn blue due to lack of blood flow, it leads me to conclude that humans only need hemoglobin to transport oxygen in the human body.
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  10. #10 Taryn
    March 29, 2015

    The reason haemocyanin is blue rather than red is due to the presence of copper, where as haemoglobin contains iron. Unlike haemoglobin – which is attached directly to the red blood cells in an organism – haemocyanin is free floating within the blood. Also, it has been found that oxygen bonds non cooperatively to haemocyanin, which is the reason for haemocyanin working better in lower oxygen environments as opposed to high oxygen environments.

    Scientists believe that haemocyanin is a trait which roughly 600 million years ago, evolved or ‘split off’ from the haemoglobin trait.

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  11. #11 Lebogang
    Pretoria
    March 30, 2015

    This study of discovering blue oxygen carrying haemocyanin pigment in the blood might bring a great deal of change or might help to improve the resistance of human tissues from low temperatures thus human cells are the same to animal cells.

    14133629

  12. #12 tebogo
    March 30, 2015

    @Tiane’ Schmdit The human specie has very powerful systems that can easily adapt to environmental changes so it is not really necessary to find a way of injecting them with the haemocyanin pigment because naturally their system responds to stimulus to protect the body and to easily allow the body to undergo certain adaptations.

  13. #13 Dimakatso
    Bloemfontein
    March 30, 2015

    What I found more interesting than the reason why the blood of octopi is blue is the fact it is because of this heamocyanin pigment they can survive at freezing temperatures!
    It is amazing how it was shown that the enzyme also has better oxygen carrying capacity at higher temperatures. Does this make the octopi able to cope with “big” and regular climate changes?
    12133214

  14. #14 lorinda- 15018939
    March 31, 2015

    This is just more proof of how awesome the body can be. research stated that the reason the Antarctic octopus (Pareledone charcoti) use haemocyanin is because the high copper levels in the Altantic. Therefor the enzymes used for the carrying of oxygen in the blood can work at their full potential.

  15. #15 A Korb 15073263
    March 31, 2015

    Another interesting fact about Heamocyanin is its anti-tumor effects. Mice have been treated for bladder cancer and the haemocyanin showed a decrease in the tumor growth. It is believed that haemocyanin has the potential to treat future cancers.

  16. #16 Kotze, A
    April 1, 2015

    If heamocyanin has anti-tumour efffects, more research on treating cancers should be done. Think about using heamocynin for treating patients with frost-bite.

  17. #17 R van der Walt 15034365
    Hartbeespoort
    April 2, 2015

    Interestingly the same adaptation that prevent the Antarctic octopus’ (Pareledone charcoti) blood to freeze at subzero water temperatures may also be what allows the warm-adapted octopus to survive higher water temperatures.

  18. #18 R van der Walt 15034365
    April 2, 2015

    Interestingly it is the same adaptation that prevents the Arctic octopus’ blood to freeze also allow the octopus that live in warmer water to survive this conditions. Very interesting to see how the same adaptation can benefit this specie in different habitats.

  19. #19 AG Woodley - u15001416
    April 4, 2015

    Very interesting. Will the fact that haemocyanin has a better oxygen carrying capacity at higher temperatures improve the survival of this octopus species in other types of climates, say more temperate, warmer waters? If so, why do we not find these octopus species in warmer climates? Couldn’t an agent containing haemocyanin be invented to use on human patients struggling with respiratory diseases, since it has a better oxygen carrying capacity than haemoglobin?

  20. #20 S Mngambi
    South Africa
    April 6, 2015

    The study shows that the octopus can survive in wide range of temperature. is there a way in which this hemocyanin can be use in terrestrial animals and humans to over come constantly changing climate.
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  21. #21 S Mngambi
    South Africa
    April 6, 2015

    The adaptation of hemocyanin octopus to wide range of temperature is remarkable outstanding. it is said that it contain 40% more hemocyanin to other octopus does that suggest that it could be equivalent to the amount of oxygen carried by hemoglobin.
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  22. #22 Howard MJ u15040692
    South Africa
    April 6, 2015

    This is great research that will further our understanding of many curious aquatic organisms. Haemocyanin is an oxygen-carrying protein with copper atoms that reflect off a blue colour whereas the hemoglobin molecule in human blood uses iron, giving our blood a red colour. To my understanding haemocyanin is common in arthropods and molluscs which are simple phylums with a lower level of organisation than humans. Perhaps haemocyanin is an ancient protein that was not carried to all organisms as a changing climate, higher organisation levels and higher demand for efficient oxygen transport systems would require a more evolved protein. However research shows that a specific haemocyanin is an important factor in cancer treatment. Keyhole limpet haemocyanin contains epiototes that , once injected will prompt a strong immune response as the body produces antibodies for the strain.( Sam Roudman , ‘How Mollusk blood could cure cancer” ) If the injected protein can be associated with the cancer cells then the body will no longer recognise the cancer cells as merey “part of the body” and see it for the enemy it is. The side effects of using haemocyanin could be quite extreme because after all, we have a different protein for a reason. u15040692

  23. #23 Imre Laubscher u15014615
    April 8, 2015

    The use of haemocyanin really could be a prospective treatment, taking into account the fact that it has no toxic effect(thus far noted). The gap between experiments conducted on mice in a lab and experimental studies involving humans is enormous, but further studies are crucial.

  24. #24 Imre Laubscher u15014615
    April 8, 2015

    The use of haemocyanin really could be a prospective treatment for cancer, taking into consideration the fact that it has no toxic effect(thus far noted). The gap between experiments conducted on mice in a lab and experimental studies involving humans is enormous, but further studies are crucial.

  25. #25 Bennett M
    April 8, 2015

    Would it be possible to use this function of heamocyanin and incorporate it into fossil fuels to prevent them from freezing? Or even Brake fluid? In many cold countries like Canada, cars have to be plugged into a heating system to prevent the petrol inside of it from freezing. Could we incorporate heamocyanin into the petrol which might make the need for the heating systems less or in fact null and void…
    u15031617

  26. #26 S Mngambi
    South Africa
    April 8, 2015

    The antarctic octopus use hemocyanin which is extracellular and hemoglobin is intracellular is it possible to use hemocyanin on other animals as additional oxygen transporting protein.
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  27. #27 carl
    cape town
    April 8, 2015

    hemocyanin and hemoglobin are both protein but one have copper base which is hemocyanin and hemoglobin have iron base hence the colour difference. is it possible at all to use one in the animal using the other protein

  28. #28 t. molle
    cape town
    April 8, 2015

    hemocyanin has large molecular structure hence it is extracellular which mean that it need more space and for sure the organism have to be large in body size

  29. #29 S Mngambi
    South Africa
    April 8, 2015

    hemocyanin have been used as an anti-agent in human helping in the enhancement of immune response to particular pathogenic disease
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  30. #30 Bennett M
    April 9, 2015

    Could one perhaps incorporate the heamocyanin into petrol in order to prevent the petrol from freezing in very cold climates like the one Canada has? I’ve heard they have to “plug in” their cars to keep them warm when parked-to prevent the petrol and liquids inside from freezing.

  31. #31 u15000886
    South Africa
    April 9, 2015

    Can someone please tell me what color human blood is before it is re-oxygenated?

  32. #32 Batista
    Pretoria
    April 10, 2015

    The increased ability to carry oxygen is something that fasinates me, could it be because of evolution on the cell? if the would be a “shortage in oxygen” would they have greater chances of survival?

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  33. #33 Kotze, A
    April 10, 2015

    Bennett, I don’t think one will be able to put haemocyanin in petrol to prevent it from freezing, since haemocyanin is a protein containing copper ,responsible for transporting oxygen in BLOOD PLASMA.

  34. #34 Odette L
    April 10, 2015

    I think that this topic deserves more attention then it gets, it is already proven that hemocyanin can help prevent bladder cancer and it has also been used as an anti-agent in humans helping the enhancement of immune response to particular pathogenic diseases. I think that if we give more scientific attention to hemocyanin we could perhaps prove that it could heal frost bite and prevent all kinds of other problems that is caused by extremely cold temperatures.

  35. #35 Odette L
    April 10, 2015

    I think that this topic deserves more attention then it gets, it is already proven that hemocyanin can help prevent bladder cancer and it has also been used as an anti-agent in humans helping the enhancement of immune response to particular pathogenic diseases. I think that if we give more scientific attention to hemocyanin we could perhaps prove that it could heal frost bite and prevent all kinds of other problems that is caused by extremely cold temperatures.
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  36. #36 Ashmead, R: 15044018
    South Africa
    April 10, 2015

    This is indeed an interesting article. Am I correct in assuming that haemocyanin is found predominantly in lower order creatures, or is it specifically those found in a colder climate? I understand that the reason cold temperatures factor breathing is it can be hard to deliver oxygen to tissues due to lower oxygen diffusion and increased blood viscosity at these temperatures, but I would like to know what exactly the haemocyanin does to counteract the aforementioned? Thank you for any responses and insight!
    PS, Re: u15000886, It is myth that blood is blue when deoxyginated, in actual fact, oxygenated blood is a bright red color, while deoxygenated blood is just a darker shade of red.

  37. #37 u14143993
    April 11, 2015

    Specifically, what structural changes does haemocyanin undergo within this octopus? And could this be harassed to change functionality in other species and make them more adaptable in colder climates?

  38. #38 Moola MH
    April 13, 2015

    Haemocyanins are also found in other Molluscs and Arthropods and are utilized by some land arthropods such as the tarantula and the emperor scorpion. Is it possible that Haemocyanins played a role the survival and evolution of the octopus from the Cretaceous period to now by allowing them to survive through the any harsh climate changes since then? If so can the same be said for other animals that utilize Haemocyanins?

    u15033725

  39. #39 Anastacia-lee Geuens 15033750
    Johannesburg
    April 16, 2015

    I wish I had blue oxygen carrying haemocyanin, that way I would be able to stay warm in winter. I wonder if it would be possible to use these pigments to genetically modify crops in order to produce crops that are resistant to cold temperatures in winter. Would have been nice to know more about these statements and how the octopus uses these pigments and structural changes physically. Fascinating article though.

  40. #40 Greyling N
    April 16, 2015

    Such a amazing finding. I wonder what we can do with this new information? Maybe someone will find a way for humans to make use of haemocyanin to stop us from getting cold? I think it is wonderful how different creatures are adapted for different conditions but I also think it is very interesting how far science has come in using these adaptions to make our own lives better.
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  41. #41 M. Bester ( u15049125 )
    South Africa
    April 17, 2015

    Hemocyanins are proteins that transport oxygen throughout the bodies of some invertebrate animals. I do not believe that it is a good idea to use this pigment in humans, as humans are very different from these animals and do not have the same need for this protein and are adapting to change in temperature in many different ways than the invertebrate animals. (For example humans cool down during the process of sweat evaporation, which the under water animals obviously ar not able to do.) It is very interesting to see the many differences in all the creatures on earth and how they all are so very unique.
    u15049125

  42. #42 Brian Ndlovu
    South Africa, Pretoria
    April 17, 2015

    Octopus have three hearts and need more oxygen than most vertebrates. They have hemocyanins that functions almost like hemoglobin, hemocyanins transport much needed oxygen to all parts octopus. Hemocyanin ensure that oxygen that is pumped through three hearts is always available even if its not readily available where octopus maybe located. As they have blue blood that enables them to survive even adverse weather conditions, these creature are unlikely to migrate.

  43. #43 Chesray
    South Africa
    April 17, 2015

    Very fascinating and insightful blog, to be honest i did not know that some animals actually does have blue blood. If the Antarctic octopus is adapted for the cold, does this mean that they survive in warm oceans?
    u15116434

  44. #44 Chesray
    South Africa
    April 17, 2015

    A very insightful and intriguing blog. To be honest, I did not know some animals actually did have blue blood. Seeing as the antarctic octopus is adapted for cold waters, will it be unable to survive in warm waters?
    u15116434

  45. #45 G. Smith
    Potchefstroom
    April 17, 2015

    A very interesting blog, kept me captivated and excited from the first word!

  46. #46 Leslie u14218594
    Pretoria , South Africa
    April 17, 2015

    The oxygen carrying pigment, haemocyanin in Antarctic octopus’ blood is quite fascinating. I believe the scientific world can find endless uses to its characteristics with the aim of aiding human development, for example, for humans living in the coldest parts of the world It can offers protection from the freezing temperatures.

  47. #47 Lungile u15324959
    Pretoria , South Africa
    April 17, 2015

    It is amazing that pigment with similarities to anti-freeze for motor oil is present on living organisms, the uses for such pigmentation can be rather beneficial for humanity.

  48. #48 Chesray
    South Africa
    April 17, 2015

    Extremely insightful and interesting. I was just wondering, can the Antarctic octopus also survive in warm oceans?

  49. #49 Marnel (u15008160)
    Pretoria
    April 17, 2015

    Is it the haemocyanin itself that is the differentiating factor here or is it the amount? There are numerous organisms found in warmer environments that also make use of haemocyanin, so it could be argued that the protein itself is not the significant factor here but rather the much higher amounts of it. Could it not be argued that an organism possessing haemoglobin could achieve the same effect by substantially raising its levels of the same? What of the “human polar bear”, could this not be the secret to his amazing capabilities?

  50. #50 Marnel (u15008160)
    Pretoria
    April 18, 2015

    Is it the haemocyanin itself that is significant or the amount thereof? It may be argued that there are many haemocyanin-blooded organisms found in warmer environments and many haemoglobin-blooded organisms found in cold environments, so the direct correlation between either protein and any particular temperature environment is not so clear. An example elsewhere on this site refers to red-blooded fish being found under 740 m of ice. What is interesting is the significant elevation in the oxygen carrying protein, might this not be found in other haemoglobin-blooded organisms if we were to look for it? If some significant correlation is found, could this not be used to enhance performance in humans in cold environments, such as deep divers/ ice divers or rescue workers? Thinking of the “Human Polar Bear”, might he not exhibit elevated haemoglobin levels? If he does, perhaps we could learn whether he was born with such or whether he achieved it by conditioning/ training. Either way, this may prove a useful avenue of research.

  51. #51 Tanaka Mutangadura
    Pretoria
    April 18, 2015

    This is a real break through because if explored further an artificial form of haemocyanin could be made that could be useful to humans that are required to experience extreme temperatures such as soldiers. It would save the lives of many who die from hypothermia and hyperthermia
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  52. #52 Jacqueline Maphutha
    Midrand
    April 19, 2015

    It appears as though this blue oxygen carrying haemocyanin pigment in the blood of an Antarctic octopus, protects the octopus from freezing temperatures and that the haemocyanin undergoes functional changes to improve the supply of oxygen to tissue at sub-zero temperatures. So would it not be possible to isolate the blue oxygen carrying haemocyanin pigment and utilize it to create a product that would ensure that human-beings who venture into regions with sub-zero temperatures can be protected from the freezing temperatures and ensure an improvement in the supply of oxygen to the tissues. u15036945

  53. #53 J. Badenhorst
    South Africa
    April 19, 2015

    This is a very fascinating blog. I agree with M. Bester, I believe that every organism is made up in a unique way for a good reason. If humans was supposed to have that heamocyanin cells, then they would have been born with it.
    This is so interesting to see how every organism differ from each other.

  54. #54 Z.P. Booysen (u13045212)
    Pretoria, South Africa
    April 19, 2015

    Is it plausible that all octopi have Hemocyanins protein gene? but are just recessive because they aren’t in these sub freezing temperatures?

  55. #55 sinon Mohavia(15066704)
    pretoria
    April 19, 2015

    this is amazing for me because i wasn’t aware that some living organisms can have a different blood colour other than red.And that blue blood doesn’t have the same properties with red blood but has the capability to do the same job of transporting oxygen.blue blood has haemocyanin that keeps the organism warm during cold temperatures.

  56. #56 Chiangjieh ARM (14295522)
    April 19, 2015

    It’s interesting that the haemoglobin and hemocyanin are not only different in color but also in functions. But the inevitable question must be asked: “what will happen to these animals species with hemocyanin when global warming will rise to the maximum in later years?”

  57. #57 Boss
    April 19, 2015

    What did we expect from the most intelligent invertebrate. Nature has been unfair for evolving these creatures to be more advance than other species.

  58. #58 Ran
    April 19, 2015

    Guys, did anyone watched the video that comes after this blue blood video. It supposely explains what happened after THE GREAT FLOOD. It also claims that members of the English royal family are Demi-God/goddess

  59. #59 Z.Pretorius
    Pretoria
    April 20, 2015

    What structural changes does this oxygen carrier undergo. I wonder if there is other creatures that follows the same structural changes in the oxygen carrying proteien.
    u15042074

  60. #60 Leslie u14218594
    University of Pretoria
    April 20, 2015

    I agree with M.Bester , the physiology of humans and that of these Antarctic octopuses is very different, the use of the haemocyanin pigment can be dangerous , this however should not obstruct the research on the seemilngly endless opportunities of application of the advantageous characteristics of the pigment.