Scientists have found a new species of fish off the coast of Antarctica that actually possess antifreeze proteins in its blood that allows them to endure the harsh bone-chilling winter conditions of the Southern Ocean.
According to the researchers, the adaptation protects the fish from freezing in the cold waters of Antarctica at the sub-temperatures. However, the researchers said that this remarkable evolutionary adaptation comes with a warning.
Researchers said that while these proteins may be beneficial for the fish inhabiting frigid waters of Antarctica, they also come with an unintended side-effect and i.e. the protein-bound ice crystals forming inside the fish resist melting in any condition, even when the temperatures are increased.
Paul Cziko, from the University of Oregon, said that the antifreeze proteins can levy several ‘undesirable’ and ‘unexpected’ consequences in Antarctic notothenioid, commonly called ‘icefish’ that have the ability to endure seawater temperatures of -2 degrees Celsius.
The antifreeze proteins also act as ‘anti-melt proteins’ that stops ice crystals from melting, said Cziko said while adding that Arthur DeVries and Chi-Hing Cheng worked with two University of Illinois professor of animal biology.
During the 1960s, DeVries discovered antifreeze proteins in notothenioid fish and also find the importance of the proteins.
According to the husband, notothenioid fishes’ families that occupy the Southern Ocean, makes up to about 90 percent of the fish biomass of the region.
The researchers further believed that the extraordinary antifreeze proteins were responsible for the adaptation of fish families into the icy waters and also their population boom.
Concluding the study, Cheng said, “This is just one more piece in the puzzle of how notothenioids came to dominate the ocean around Antarctica. It also tells us something about evolution. That is, adaptation is a story of trade-offs and compromise. Every good evolutionary innovation probably comes with some bad, unintended effects.”
The study was detailed in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.