Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Building a beetle antifreeze

05.03.2012
An Alaskan beetle beats the cold using an unusual, natural antifreeze with a novel mode of action that scientists are beginning to unravel

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 antifreeze called xylomannan, which is produced by the freeze-tolerant Alaskan beetle Upis ceramboides, is being studied by Akihiro Ishiwata and Yukishige Ito at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute at Wako and their colleagues. Their findings to date show that xylomannan is a particularly unusual antifreeze.

Xylomannan was first reported in 2009, and has been shown to be amongst the most active insect antifreezes found to date. Antifreeze compounds, which are also known as thermal hysteresis factors (THFs), protect the insects’ cells from damage as temperatures fall and ice crystals begin to form. THFs seem to work by sticking to the surface of nascent ice crystals and somehow stopping them from growing, protecting nearby cell membranes from being punctured by needles of ice.

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.

The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Synthetic Cellular Chemistry Laboratory, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute

gro-pr | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.riken.jp
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>