Animals and plants have evolved all sorts of chemical tricks that allow them to colonize extreme environments. For species that call Antarctica or the Arctic home, surviving sub-zero temperatures is an essential ability, and chemists have isolated many natural antifreeze compounds from these organisms.
A computer-generated image of the beetle antifreeze xylomannan reveals that one face bristles with oxygen atoms (red), forming a polar surface that helps it to cling to ice crystals. Copyright : 2012 Yukishige Ito
The unusual thing about xylomannan is its constituents. Every natural THF isolated to date is protein based, but xylomannan is a glycan, a long-chain sugar-based compound. “Xylomannan is the first example of a THF biomolecule with little or no protein component,” says Ishiwata. “Its mode of action is not entirely clear, but it should be different to those of common THFs such as antifreeze proteins and glycoproteins.”
To confirm the proposed structure of xylomannan, so that they can begin to study how it interacts with ice crystals, Ishiwata, Ito and their colleagues synthesized what they thought to be a key component of the compound’s sugar-based backbone. Their structural analysis, using nuclear magnetic resonance techniques and molecular modeling, confirmed that the structure matches that of the natural compound. It also hints at the way that xylomannan might stick to ice crystals: one face of xylomannan is much more polar than the other face, making one face hydrophilic and the other hydrophobic..“We propose that the hydrophilic phase of xylomannan might bind to the ice crystal, exposing the hydrophobic phase on the ice crystal’s surface,” says Ishiwata. This hydrophobic surface should repel water molecules away from the ice crystal, stopping it from growing any further. “However, the binding mode is still not clear from our structural analysis,” he adds. To test the theory further, the team now plans to synthesize longer fragments of xylomannan to examine their ice-binding ability.
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08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
Transistors based on carbon nanostructures: what sounds like a futuristic dream could be reality in just a few years' time. An international research team working with Empa has now succeeded in producing nanotransistors from graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, as reported in the current issue of the trade journal "Nature Communications."
Graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, so-called graphene nanoribbons, have special electrical properties that make them promising candidates for the...
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08.12.2017 | Information Technology