New antifreeze molecule found in Alaska beetle

More about insects enduring the winter cold: researchers at University of Alaska Fairbanks have isolated a previously unknown molecule that allows an Alaska beetle able to survive temperatures below -100 F. The new molecule, called xylomannan, has little or no protein, which makes it completely different in form and mechanism than other known biological antifreezes.

The freeze-tolerant Alaska beetle, Upis ceramboides, can survive temperatures below minus 100 F.

“The most exciting part of this discovery is that this molecule is a whole new kind of antifreeze that may work in a different location of the cell and in a different way,” said zoophysiologist Brian Barnes in a Science Daily article. Barnes is director of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology and one of five scientists who participated in the Alaska Upis ceramboides beetle project.

Barnes speculates that the molecule may work because it has the same fatty acid as cell membranes, which may allow it to protect the cell from forming internal ice.

via Scientists isolate new antifreeze molecule in Alaska beetle.

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