Freezing in the Antarctic limpet, Nacella concinna

The process of organismal freezing in the Antarctic limpet, Nacelle concinna, is complicated by molluscan biology. Internal ice formation is, in particular, mediated by two factors: (a) the provision of an inoculative target for ice formation in the exposed mucus-secreting foot; and (b) osmoconformity to the marine environment. With regard to the first, direct observations of the independent freezing of pedal mucus support the hypothesis that internal ice formation is delayed by the mucal film. As to the second, ice nucleation parametrics of organismal tissue (head, midgut, gonad, foot) and mucus in both inter- and subtidal populations were characterized by high melting points (range = -4.61 to -6.29 degrees C), with only c.50% of a given sample osmotically active. At this stage it would be premature to ascribe a cryo-adaptive function to the mucus as the protective effects are more readily attributed to the physical properties of the secretion (i.e. viscosity) and their corresponding effects on the rate of heat transfer. As it is difficult to thermally distinguish between the freezing of mucus and the rest of the animal, the question as to whether it is tolerant of internal as well as external ice formation remains problematic, although it may be well suited to the osmotic stresses of organismal freezing. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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Authors: Hawes, T.C., Worland, M. Roger, Bale, J.S.

On this site: Roger Worland
1 January, 2010
Cryobiology / 61
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