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Cryo Letters. 2000 Nov-Dec;21(6):327-332.

Survival of freezing by free-living Antarctic soil nematodes.

Author information

1
British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK.

Abstract

Free-living microbivorous nematodes become numerically dominant in Antarctic terrestrial faunas as environmental conditions become more severe, while also reaching very high levels of abundance in moist, vegetated habitats. Nematodes have little resistance to freezing via exogenous ice nucleation, such as would occur as their microhabitat freezes. We report the results of experiments testing the ability of seven maritime Antarctic nematode taxa to survive freezing in small water droplets at high sub-zero temperatures. Isolated individuals of these species possessed supercooling characteristics similar to those previously reported (supercooling points -6 to -25 degree C). When frozen in water at -3 to -6 degree C, most showed high (> 70%) survival both (i) after rapid cooling (1 degree C/min) to c. -60 degree C followed by immediate rewarming, and (ii) when held for 7-12 h at either -10 or -30 degree C, although the proportions surviving varied between species. We propose that the ability to survive freezing while fully hydrated at high sub-zero temperatures is one of the most important aspects of these species' survival tactics.

PMID:
12148024

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