August 14, 2022

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Science.  Antarctic scallops, covered with anti-freeze - Publimetro México

Science. Antarctic scallops, covered with anti-freeze – Publimetro México

Madrid, 3 (European press)

The scallop Adamussium colbecki is unusually resistant to freezing in the harsh waters of Antarctica by developing a special surface structure that protects it from ice.

The so-called supercooled water in Antarctica has a temperature just below the freezing point. Due to the higher salt content, the freezing point of Antarctic water is about -1.9 °C, but about 0.05 °C cooler. The smallest disturbances, such as grains of sand or surfaces, can cause this supercooled water to freeze, with sometimes fatal consequences for organisms that cannot survive freezing.

While scallops in warmer regions have irregular or smooth surfaces, Antarctic species have a very regular microstructure that protects them from freezing, according to a study by the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-Q).

The microscope reveals tiny edges spread in a radioactive form on its cover. These ridges ensure that the water preferentially freezes there. If the freezing process continues, a continuous layer of ice forms, resting only at the edges. Due to the low adhesion between the ice and the crust, the smallest underwater flow can again remove the ice, and the scallop does not freeze.

In addition to microscopic studies, the research team also conducted ice experiments with Antarctica and scallops from warmer regions. It has been found that much less force is needed to remove the ice cover from the Antarctic scallop than in other species.

“It’s exciting how evolution has given this scallop a scallop advantage,” says Konrad Meister, a chemist at MPI-P and first author of the study. New technological applications based on the principle of bioelectronics can be visualized from the knowledge of the free ice layer. For example, ice-free surfaces can be very interesting for polar shipping.”

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The study was published in the journal Communications Biology.