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Alaskan frogs freeze themselves to survive extreme cold

By Shruti Saxena | Last Updated: Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 11:42

Zee Media Bureau/Shruti Saxena

New Delhi: Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have found that wood frogs in subarctic interior Alaska survive cold during winter season by freezing themselves below minus 18 degrees Celsius for up to 218 days and then come back to life in the spring season.

Don Larson, lead author of the study, was quoted as saying “Alaska wood frogs spend more time freezing and thawing outside than a steak does in your freezer, and the frog comes back to life in the spring in better shape than the steak”.
Although wood frogs are freeze-tolerant amphibians which cover themselves by duff and leaf litter, creating a hibernacula (a small cave like structure), where temperatures are below freezing point, ye Larson’s research is believed to be the first to examine frogs under natural conditions.

To survive harsh winter conditions, the cells of these frogs hold a remarkable amount of glucose in their tissues which builds an additional layer and protects cells in a process called cryoprotection.

“In the field in early Autumn it`s freezing during the night, thawing slightly during the day, and these repeated freezing episodes stimulate the frogs to release more and more glucose,” Larson said.
The study may pave way for freezing of human organs to be used for transplant purposes later.

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

First Published: Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 11:30
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