Limpets reveal possible fate of cold-blooded Antarctic animals

Jul 23, 2007

A limpet no bigger than a coin could reveal the possible fate of cold-blooded Antarctic marine animals according to new research published this week in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

Compared to their temperate and tropical cousins, cold-blooded polar marine animals are incapable of fast growth. Until now scientists assumed that a lack of food in winter was the major limiting factor. Studies of the protein-making abilities of limpets in both the sea around the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station and in the laboratory aquarium reveal that these animals cannot make proteins – the building blocks of growth - efficiently.

Lead author Dr Keiron Fraser from BAS says, “This is an important step forward in our understanding of the complex biodiversity of Antarctica’s unique ecosystem. Sea temperature is predicted to increase by around 2°C in the next 100 years. If cold-blooded Antarctic animals can’t grow efficiently, or increase their growth rates, they are unlikely to be able to cope in warmer water, or compete with species that will inevitably move into the region as temperatures rise.”

Growth in animals occurs primarily by making and retaining proteins. While tropical water limpets typically retain 70% of the proteins they make, those in the Antarctic appear only to retain about 20%.

Source: British Antarctic Survey

Explore further: Genetic basis of color diversity in coral reefs discovered

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Black hole chokes on a swallowed star

28 minutes ago

A five-year analysis of an event captured by a tiny telescope at McDonald Observatory and followed up by telescopes on the ground and in space has led astronomers to believe they witnessed a giant black hole ...

Montana oil spill estimate lowered to 30,000 gallons

50 minutes ago

Authorities have lowered their estimate of how much oil spilled from a broken pipeline beneath the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana, briefly contaminating the water supply of a city downstream.

Researchers use oxides to flip graphene conductivity

1 hour ago

Graphene, a one-atom thick lattice of carbon atoms, is often touted as a revolutionary material that will take the place of silicon at the heart of electronics. The unmatched speed at which it can move electrons, ...

Recommended for you

A rare glimpse at the elusive saharan cheetah

9 hours ago

Research by scientists and conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Zoological Society of London, and other groups published today in PLOS ONE shows that critically endangered Saharan cheeta ...

In a role reversal, RNAs proofread themselves

10 hours ago

Building a protein is a lot like a game of telephone: information is passed along from one messenger to another, creating the potential for errors every step of the way. There are separate, specialized enzymatic ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.