A study led by scientists from the American Museum of Natural History and the City University of New York (CUNY), and published today in the journal Evolutionary Bioinformatics, accounts for the existence of a particular group of fish that live in the iceberg areas of Greenlandand that they use an antifreeze system through proteins in their body.
“Similar to how the antifreeze in your car prevents the water in your radiator from freezing in cold temperatures, some animals have evolved incredible machinery that prevents them from freezing, such as antifreeze proteins, which prevent ice crystals from forming.” said David Gruber, research associate at the museum and distinguished professor of biology at CUNY’s Baruch College. “We already knew that this tiny snailfish, which lives in extremely cold waters, produced antifreeze proteins, but we didn’t realize how packed with those proteins it is, and how much effort it was putting into making these proteins.”
Gruber and co-author John Sparks, curator of the museum’s Department of Ichthyology, decided to investigate the antifreeze proteins of juvenile variegated snailfish, Liparis gibbus, after finding an exceptional ability separate from the little fish: biofluorescence.
Snailfish genes have the highest expression levels of antifreeze proteins ever observed, highlighting their importance to the survival of these animals and sending up a red flag for how they might fare in warm environmental conditions.
“Since the mid-20th century, temperatures have risen twice as fast in the Arctic than in mid-latitudes, and some studies predict that if Arctic sea ice decline continues at this current rate, the Arctic Ocean will be mostly free by summer.” of ice within the next three decades,” Sparks said. “Arctic seas do not support a high diversity of fish species, and our study hypothesizes that with increasingly warmer ocean temperatures, ice specialists like this snailfish may encounter greater competition from more temperate species than previously possible.” they could survive at these higher northern latitudes.”