Variation in blood serum antifreeze activity of Antarctic Trematomus fishes across habitat temperature and depth

Lauren G. Fields, Arthur L. DeVries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High latitude waters in the Southern Ocean can be near their freezing point and remain ice-covered throughout the year whereas lower latitude Southern Ocean waters have seasonal ice coverage and comparatively large (6. °C) annual temperature changes. The genus Trematomus (suborder Notothenioidei) is regarded primarily as a high latitude group because of its abundance there, they also inhabit the warmer regions in smaller numbers. Freeze avoidance in the notothenioids is linked to the presence of two antifreeze proteins (AFPs); the antifreeze glycoproteins (AFGPs) and antifreeze potentiating protein (AFPP), both of which adsorb to internal ice crystals inhibiting growth. Both high and low latitude trematomids possess sufficient AFP to lower their blood freezing point below that of seawater (- 1.9. °C). We investigated the contributions of AFGPs and AFPP to the blood freezing point depression to determine how they varied with depth, water temperature, and the presence of ice. High latitude trematomids had lower blood freezing points than those inhabiting lower latitude waters indicating differences in their freeze avoidance capacities. Lower freezing points were associated with higher levels of antifreeze activity due to higher levels of both AFGP and AFPP. Populations of Trematomus hansoni and Trematomus bernacchii from shallow depths appear more freeze avoidant than populations inhabiting deep, ice-free water based on their lower freezing points and higher antifreeze activities. Gel electrophoresis of the trichloroacetic acid-soluble AFGPs indicates that only high molecular weight isoforms, which contribute more to AFGP activity, vary across species as well as between individuals of a species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology -Part A : Molecular and Integrative Physiology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Antifreeze glycoprotein
  • Ecological physiology
  • Thermal hysteresis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology


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