2015 Experimental Biology - Day 4

Yesterday (Tuesday) was another great day for Comparative Physiology!

Arthur L. DeVries

Congratulations to Dr. Arthur DeVries (above; Professor Emeritus, Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology; Professor of Animal Biology, University of Illinois), this year's recipient of the August Krogh Distinguished lecturer award from the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society. Dr. DeVries gave an excellent seminar summarizing his career studying fish that live in some of the coldest waters without freezing! The fish accomplish this amazing task by having anti-freeze proteins or peptides that bind to water molecules or small ice crystals and prevent them from growing larger. This acts to lower the freezing point of the fish. Amazing!

Image of green crab from Wikipedia.

Gwendolyn Pelletier, undergraduate student from the University of New England - Biddeford, Maine studied the effects of wastewater treatment plant effluent that leaks into marine ecosystems. Her research specifically focused on the effects of the wastewater run-off on green crabs (Carcinus maenas). Perhaps not surprisingly, she found that exposure of crabs to solutions containing 20% wastewater effluent shortened the length of time the animals were able to run on a treadmill and also increased a marker of oxidative stress (glutathione-S-transferase activity) as well as overall stress (heat shock protein 70).

Xenopus laevis 02.jpg Image of Xenopus laevis from Wikipedia.

Julia Pinette, undergraduate student from Keene State College showed that polyaromatic hydrocarbons commonly found in human breast milk as well as cord blood can negatively affect function and development in a vertebrate model used to study heart development, the Xenopus laevis.

Svante Winberg, Uppsala University - Uppsala, Sweden observed that socially subordinate animals have higher levels of serotonin activation in the brain whereas socially dominant animals tend to have higher activities of dopamine, an effect that can be seen in zebrafish as well.

 

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Amazing finding by Dr. Arthur DeVries, his work is surely to bring a breakthrough in biological studies and could even help find new products or medicine to lower the freezing point of other animals that live in changing environments

By Thokozane Ntsh… (not verified) on 01 Apr 2015 #permalink

Wow! It is very interesting to find that some living organisms have extreme ways of protecting themselves, but which bonds occur between the protein and the water and how is the protein structured, meaning which characteristics enables this binding to occur.

By Sedibane KP(15… (not verified) on 02 Apr 2015 #permalink

Wow! It is very interesting to find that some living organisms have extreme ways of protecting themselves. Which bonds occur between the protein and the water and how is the protein structured, meaning which characteristics enables this binding to occur?

By Sedibane KP(15… (not verified) on 02 Apr 2015 #permalink

Wow this is fascinating! But how does the anti freezing bonds occur?

By Sedibane KP(15… (not verified) on 02 Apr 2015 #permalink

I have never imagined that social dominance could have anything to do with neurotransmitters. Is this effect found in humans too? Is it controllable, for instance in different situations where one might have more experience or knowledge about the situation, therefore making it an easier task to take over the roll as a leader? Is an animal genetically programmed to have higher or lower levels of serotonin or dopamine that could result in, for instance, that one pup in a wolf litter will be able to take over the roll of pack leader, while the rest of his/ her siblings would be pack followers?
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By Chanté Kritzinger (not verified) on 02 Apr 2015 #permalink

The anti-freeze proteins prevent the fish from growing larger but how exactly does that lower the freezing point of the fish and protect it from the cold water?
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By Payal Upadhyay (not verified) on 03 Apr 2015 #permalink

Payal Upadhyay, the anti freezer proteins does not prevent the fish from growing larger but it prevents the molecules or small ice crystals of water from getting more larger because if they get larger, the fish would freeze. We can then say anti freezer acts like a catalysist

Payal Upadhyay, the anti freezer proteins does not prevent the fish from growing larger but it prevents the molecules or small ice crystals of water from getting more larger because if they get larger, the fish would freeze. We can then say anti freezer acts like a catalysist
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Although the anti-freeze proteins prevent one small ice crystal from growing larger, what prevents other ice crystals from forming, accumulating and eventually causing the organism to freeze internally?
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By Juan-Pierre va… (not verified) on 04 Apr 2015 #permalink

It really is interesting how the social hierarchy in nature can have an influence on the brain activity of animals. I'm just wondering how exactly this works and what the reason is for this human-like behavior ?

By Jacobus Burger (not verified) on 04 Apr 2015 #permalink

It really is interesting how the social hierarchy in nature can have an influence on the brain activity of animals. I’m just wondering how exactly this works and what the reason is for this human-like behavior ?

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By Jacobus Burger (not verified) on 04 Apr 2015 #permalink

It really is very interesting how social hierarchy in nature can have an influence on the brain activity of wild animals. I'm just wondering what causes this human-like behavior ??

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By Jacobus Burger (not verified) on 04 Apr 2015 #permalink

Gwendolyn Pelletier's research findings should serve as a wake-up call to wastewater treatment industries. The leakage of wastewater effluent into the marine ecosystem has a negative impact on the health of the marine organisms. Of course the water treatment plants are of great importance to humankind, but this should not be at the expense of marine ecosystems.

By TN Mphateng (1… (not verified) on 05 Apr 2015 #permalink

How we as humans can learn from nature everyday is astonishing. Credit to Dr. Arthur DeVries for making this discovery. Does the antifreeze proteins in any way resemble man-made industrial anti freeze products - did we take this knowledge from nature - or was the development unrelated?

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By Liza Roos (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

The first thing that comes to mind after reading Dr DeVries' research is AquaBounty Technologies’ application for AquAdvantage Salmon. Does anyone know if it was ever approved?

By de Bruyn, C.N… (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

I sure learned something new today. Additional research states that these anti-freeze proteins are polypeptides produced by certain vertebrates, mammals, fungi and even plants. AFPs don't lower freezing point in proportion to their concentration, proving beneficial as their lower concentration minimizes their effect on osmotic pressure. These AFPs also protect mammalian cell membranes from cold damage. I would recommend further research on this topic for anyone interested.

By Jacobs, A (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

I sure learned something new today. Additional research states that these anti-freeze proteins are polypeptides produced by certain vertebrates, mammals, fungi and even plants. AFPs don't lower freezing point in proportion to their concentration, proving beneficial as their lower concentration minimizes their effect on osmotic pressure. These AFPs also protect mammalian cell membranes from cold damage. I would recommend further research on this topic for anyone interested.
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By Jacobs, A (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

Dr Arthur de Vries Can you please enlighten me about the subject of the protein that binds with the ice molecules. Does the ice molecules act as a specific substrate for the protein
like an enzyme has a specific substrate that binds to it?
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By Dewald van Rhyn (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

Amazing information. I know that animals of same species acquire different characteristics due to the adaptation of different environmental conditions. Is it the same concept in this case? when was this discovered?

By Sifiso Dubazan… (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

There is also accumulating evidence that ant freez protiens associate with mammalian cell membranes to insulate them from cold damage.

By U15054153 (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

This is fantastic work by Dr. Arthur DeVries, and I agree with Thokozane Ntshingila (#1), that this could have an impact on nature conservation in the future.
The study by Svante Winberg of Uppsala University could also how each hormone is related to specific behaviour and we could apply this knowledge to the behaviour of individuals in other species, as mentioned by Chanté Kritzinger (#5).

By Sachin Bhoora … (not verified) on 07 Apr 2015 #permalink

An interesting find in terms of polyaromatic hydrocarbons negatively affecting vertebrates, especially in terms of this hydrocarbon being found in breast milk. However, in what ways does this hydrocarbon negatively affect vertebrates? If it is found in human breast milk, would that not mean that breast-feeding infants is in some way detrimental to them, despite the known psychological and physical connection that it makes between mother and infant? (15385010)

By Damon Xavier Laurent (not verified) on 07 Apr 2015 #permalink

Dr. Arthur DeVries' work is fascinating! This can be applied in numerous fields: it can play a role in medicine and even nature conservation, by applying this knowledge to species living in changing environments, as mentioned by Thokozane Ntshingila (#1).
Svante Winberg's work could help us understand how specific hormones play a role in individuals and how this alters groups, herds or packs. It can shed new light on how we study animal behaviour and how we observe it.
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By Sachin Bhoora (not verified) on 08 Apr 2015 #permalink

It is amazing to see the progress made in life sciences. That we are able to explore new areas and find new things like anti-freeze proteins. I cant wait to start doing things like that.
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By Amore van Baalen (not verified) on 08 Apr 2015 #permalink

It is incredible that he could find the cause of these fish being able to withstand such temperatures. Fascinating work. Do you think we could use this research to genetically engineer something that would allow humans and other organisms to withstand the same temperatures? Although I guess it would be a frivolous task seeing as though these areas are disappearing due to global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer and the other animals there are well adapted, so there would be no need for this enhancement. Besides, no one likes cold water.

I'd also say, in reply to the question about anti-freeze, that it merely prevents the ice crystals from expanding; not acting as a catalyst but rather an inhibitor. But that's just a guess.

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By I'd rather not say (not verified) on 09 Apr 2015 #permalink

I'm also interested to know whether or not social dominance in humans is also controlled by the same hormones as Winberg in her studies. Will this discovery allow us to change the characteristics of people who are socially awkward and struggling in modern day life where being social active is a near requirement? I've heard of autism being treated with Horses, but could dopamine be considered or is that a controversial topic? I never know.

Don't judge my comment too harshly, I'm just curious.

By I'd rather not say (not verified) on 09 Apr 2015 #permalink

That discovery by Dr. Arthur DeVries could be a major breakthrough in the department of Biology. If he could find a way to genetically modify those peptides so they could be applied to plants, the results would be extraordinary - Plants resistant to freezing temperatures! Locations usually too cold for farming will become available and thus the world would have a larger space to grow food.
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By Z Verster (not verified) on 09 Apr 2015 #permalink

In relation to the observation by Svante Winberg, I am interested to know a little more about the effects of serotonin and dopamine activity in the brain and how this relates to socially subordinate and dominant animals?

By Hayley Wright … (not verified) on 10 Apr 2015 #permalink

Wow amazing! How does the prevention of their growth lower the freezing point of the fish?

By Sigciniwe (not verified) on 12 Apr 2015 #permalink

It must have taken hard work and dedication to be able to do a wonderful job of discovering such about freezing point of fishes, it would be be interesting to find out if it is a arises from an allele that can be used to genetically modify other organisms , even if they are non aquatic, wonderful work!

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By DB Mokone (not verified) on 12 Apr 2015 #permalink

It is interesting to find out that animals similarly to human beings also have secretion of those specific hormones in the same conditions. since the secretion of dopamine and serotonin may be seen in various human behavioral expressions it would be even more interesting to find out how those animals behave and observe the difference between those that are socially dominant and those that are not, what effect that has on general wild life, hunting , mating ect.

Amazing research and results, who could ever thought that anything could live in coldest Water? Now we know that life do also exists even in coldest water. Anti-freeze protein that lowers fish's freezing point? Amazing stuff indeed.

By Nemukula Mulalo (not verified) on 15 Apr 2015 #permalink

Wow this is really a great feat in animal biology and science. I just want to know does the anti-freeze proteins of the fish that bonds to water molecules play a role in the water itself not freezing?
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I also wonder sometimes how fishes survive under the coolest waters. It is a great research but how are these anti-freeze proteins different from normal proteins?

By Marcos JI (15056024) (not verified) on 15 Apr 2015 #permalink

Wow, this is really cool and a great feat for Animal Biology and science. I just want to know if the anti-freeze proteins of the fish that bond to the water molecules play a part in the water not freezing?
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Wow, this is really a great achievement. i just want to know; do the anti-freeze proteins on the fish that bond to the water molecules play a role in the water not freezing?
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This is all reallly exciting. keep up the good work.

By Gregory Langlois (not verified) on 15 Apr 2015 #permalink

This is absolutely amazing, animals and life itself is truly spectacular.

Dr DeVries's work is quite interesting! Synthetically created antifreeze kills all sorts of animals worldwide. This discovery that there are animals with built-in antifreeze opens up a world of possibilities. I have read that scientists are working out how they could use these antifreeze proteins as a non-polluting de-icer for cars and other machinery. They believe that antifreeze proteins could be used to prevent food freezing. There are so many applications of biological research!

By Leana de Haan … (not verified) on 17 Apr 2015 #permalink

(Sorry if this is a re-post, my comment disappeared)
I find Dr DeVries' research extremely interesting, think about the "real-life"-applications that his work can have. Scientists are working out how they could use these antifreeze proteins as a non-polluting de-icer for cars and other machinery in parts of the world that freezes over in the winter. Antifreeze proteins could also be used to prevent food freezing and to preserve organs during organ transplants.

By leana de Haan … (not verified) on 18 Apr 2015 #permalink

To respond to some of the questions concerning antifreeze proteins in nature;
Many organisms have evolved the so called antifreeze proteins. It was first discovered in Antarctic fishes, then insects and lastly in microorganisms. These AFPs in most cases allow the organism to avoid freezing because they lower the temperature of their body fluids below that of the lowest environmental temperature. There are two major types of AFPs: a highly conserved glycoprotein and a group of diverse peptides and proteins. What they all have in common is they recognize and irreversibly bind to ice despite being very soluble in water. Adsorption to ice crystals divides the surface of the ice crystal into many micro domains (very small patches of ice). The small patches of ice can only grow in between the adsorbed AFP molecules and can only grow in highly curved fronts. The water molecules in a highly curved front have fewer neighboring water molecules to hydrogen bond to and therefore cannot attach. In order to attach and grow the temperature must be lowered. Thus it can be said the freezing point is lowered.
Thus the melting point of the ice is not significantly affected but the freezing point (the temperature of ice crystal growth) is lowered. The separation of the melting point and “freezing point” is referred to as a thermal hysteresis which is the hall mark of all of the AFPs regardless of whether glycoprotein, peptide or protein.
Different AFPs bind to different crystal faces of an ice crystal. One can think of an ice crystal as a hexagonal column with the sides being the six prism faces. The flat top and bottom is called the basal plane. All of the fish AFPs bind to the prism planes while the insect AFPs bind to both the prism plane and the basal plane.
One of the questions was how do the AFPs interact with ice? The amino acids in the protein AFPs with side chains that can form hydrogen bonds or hydroxyl groups in the glycoproteins are spaced by distances that correspond to the distances of certain oxygens in the ice crystal face. The matching spacing is referred to as a lattice match. The lattice matching is one of the mechanisms that allow the AFPs to recognize a specific face of an ice crystal and one of the forces that keeps it bound to the ice crystal resulting in the lowering of temperature at which the ice crystal will grow.
The insect AFPs are very effective in that they lower their freezing point to -12 to -15oC and this is necessary because in the terrestrial environment the temperatures are often well below 0oC in the winter. In the polar oceans however the fish only need to avoid freezing at the freezing point of sea water which is -2oC. Thus their AFPs on a weight as well as molar basis are less effective than the insects AFPs. Nature has been conservative in that fish AFPs evolved only the necessary protection and not a lot of unneeded excess antifreeze activity which would cost them energy to synthesize and as well the excess antifreeze activity would not be selected for.

By Art DeVries (not verified) on 21 Apr 2015 #permalink