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: Search continues at ancient Greek burial mound (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Phosphorus a promising semiconductor

Sep 08, 2014

(Phys.org) —Defects damage the ideal properties of many two-dimensional materials, like carbon-based graphene. Phosphorus just shrugs.

Solar fuels as generated by nature

Aug 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Society's energy supply problems could be solved in the future using a model adopted from nature. During photosynthesis, plants, algae and some species of bacteria produce sugars and other energy-rich ...

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 ...

Recommended for you

When shareholders exacerbate their own banks' crisis

Nov 21, 2014

Banks are increasingly issuing 'CoCo' bonds to boost the levels of equity they hold. In a crisis situation, bondholders are forced to convert these bonds into a bank's equity. To date, such bonds have been ...

Trouble with your boss? Own it

Nov 21, 2014

Don't get along with your boss? Your job performance may actually improve if the two of you can come to grips with the poor relationship.

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.