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: Couples need just one conversation to decide not to have children

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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

Bloody souvenir not from decapitated French king: DNA

19 hours ago

Two centuries after the French people beheaded King Louis XVI and dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood, DNA analysis has thrown new doubt on the authenticity of one such rag kept as a morbid souvenir.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Google+ boss leaving the company

The executive credited with bringing the Google+ social network to life is leaving the Internet colossus after playing a key role there for nearly eight years.