Living With Anti-Freeze

Snow Flea

Snow Flea
Photo: Daniel Tompkins

Some Collembola (Springtails) are active in winter and can be seen hopping on top of the snow. Species such as Hypogastrura harveyi are given the name “snow fleas”. How do they withstand the cold? Hypogastrura harveyi makes proteins that inhibit the formation of ice crystals. These proteins contain 45% glycine and other amino acids. The protein has a repeating motif Gly-X-X (X is an amino acid that is not glycine).  The proteins allow the internal temperature to go below zero C without freezing.   Anti-freeze proteins allow the snow fleas to be active in winter and protect against ice damage .  Ice crystals inside an insect can rupture cells and cause organ damage.  This anti-freeze protein is unique to Collembola and very different from anti-freeze proteins found in insects.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, Biomaterials, by jjneal. Bookmark the permalink.

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