Don’t hold your breath: Carp can manage without oxygen for months

Apr 07, 2006
Electron microscope image showing gills before and after exposure to anoxic conditions (Supplied by G. Nilsson)

How long can you hold your breath? Scientists at the University of Oslo have recently discovered how the Crucian Carp, a close relative of the goldfish, is able to live for months without oxygen. The researchers hope that understanding how some animals cope with a lack of oxygen might give clues as to how to solve this problem in humans.

“Anoxia related diseases are the major causes of death in the industrialized world. We have here a situation where evolution has solved the problem of anoxic survival millions of years ago, something that medical science has struggled with for decades with limited success”, says Professor Göran Nilsson who will be presenting his latest results at the Annual Meeting for the Society for Experimental Biology on Friday 7th April.

The researchers have found that this extraordinary fish can change the structure of its gills to avoid becoming anoxic. In addition its blood has a much higher affinity for oxygen than any other vertebrate, and it makes tranquilizers and produces alcohol when oxygen supplies are limited. These mechanisms allow the fish to survive for days or even months without oxygen depending on the temperature, whilst still maintaining physical activity.

Source: Society for Experimental Biology

Explore further: Liberal democracy is possible in Muslim-majority countries

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Long jumpers do better with a spring in their step

Jul 02, 2014

Long jumpers and triple jumpers spend hours training to perfect their take-off. But what influences their performance? Scientists have discovered that taking off from a compliant surface (such as a springboard) ...

Bacterial colonies evolve amazing diversity

Jun 30, 2014

Like human societies—think New York City—bacterial colonies have immense diversity among their inhabitants, often generated in the absence of specific selection pressures, according to a paper published ahead of print ...

Researchers model spent nuclear fuels

Mar 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Lawrence Livermore scientists have modeled actinide-based alloys, such as spent nuclear fuel, in an effort to predict the impact of evolving fuel chemistry on material performance.

Recommended for you

When it comes to how pizza looks, cheese matters

7 hours ago

Most consumers have an idea what they want their pizza slice to look like. Golden cheese with that dark toasted-cheese color scattered in distinct blistery patches across the surface with a bit of oil glistening in the valleys. ...

Freedom and responsibility of science

13 hours ago

Yesterday, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Leopoldina National Academy of Sciences presented their recommendations for "The Freedom and Responsibility of Science" in Berlin. Both research organizations appeal ...

Feeling bad at work can be a good thing

17 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Research by the University of Liverpool suggests that, contrary to popular opinion, it can be good to feel bad at work, whilst feeling good in the workplace can also lead to negative outcomes.

User comments : 0