Biochemical Mechanisms of Cold Adaptation and Stenothermality in Antarctic Fish

  • G. N. Somero


Antarctic fish thrive at water temperatures near the freezing point of seawater, thermal conditions which would be lethal for virtually all other fish. The physiological and biochemical adaptations that underlie the abilities of antarctic fish to survive at these low temperatures are widespread, and represent the extremes of low-temperature adaptation found among the vertebrates. Certainly the most dramatic, and essential, of these adaptations are those that prevent the hypoosmotic antarctic fish from freezing. Freezing avoidance is due to the presence of freezing-point-depressing “antifreeze” molecules, either peptides or glycopeptides, in most of the extracellular fluids of these fish (reviewed in DeVries 1988; DeVries, this Vol.). These antifreezes protect the fish from ice crystal formation and/or crystal growth, even when the animals encounter ice in their habitats.


Physiological Temperature Cold Adaptation Lethal Temperature Antarctic Fish Thermal Optimum 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. N. Somero
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of CaliforniaSan Diego, La JollaUSA

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