Excerpts from Recent Articles from 2000

2000 Back Issues

Cool news - December 2000
The antifreeze you load your window screen with on a cold frosty morning is nothing new. Antarctic marine fish devised a way to prevent themselves from freezing to death long before the Model T Ford had been thought up. While some organisms use sodium chloride, potassium, calcium, urea, free amino acids or glycerol to survive harsh conditions, the Antarctic notothenioids – such as the yellowbelly rockcod – have developed sophisticated ways of coping with polar conditions by producing a form of high-class antifreeze: antifreeze glycopeptides. These antifreeze proteins are more than 100 to 200 times more effective than any other type of antifreeze molecule and are found in most notothenoid body fluids, which is fortunate since these fish spend their lives in ice-laden waters. Fish that live in more northern temperate waters produce antifreeze proteins on a seasonal basis. (PDF version - 34K bytes)
Swiss-Prot cross references
Antifreeze glycopeptide polyprotein, Notothenia coriiceps neglecta (Yellowbelly rockcod): P24856
The Japanese Horseshoe Crab and Deafness - November 2000
The human ear is an elegant and intricate organ that consists of an outer, an inner and a middle ear, and converts mechanical signals into electrical signals with great precision. The outer ear is relatively simple in structure and functions as a sound-collecting funnel which directs sound waves to the middle ear. The middle ear transmits sound waves to the inner ear via three small bones: the malleus, the incus and the stapes. The inner ear is the ear’s boiler room; this is where sound waves are processed into electrical signals and sent – via the auditory nerve – to the brain. (PDF version - 81K bytes)
Swiss-Prot cross references
Cochlin protein, Gallus gallus (Chicken): O42163
Cochlin protein, Homo sapiens (Human): O43405
Cochlin protein, Mus musculus (Mouse): Q62507
The Arsenal of Paramecium - October 2000
Harpoons are not only man’s invention. Paramecium has also developed quite a sophisticated harpoon-like means of defence: trichocysts. The Algerian protozoologist Emile Maupas (1842-1916) had already observed trichocysts through a light microscope in the 19th century and noted an “explosion so instantaneous [at the cell’s surface] and so fast that it was quite impossible to follow the transformation of the spindle-shaped rod into a fine needle”. (PDF version - 493K bytes)
Swiss-Prot cross references
Trichocyst matrix protein T1-A, Paramecium tetraurelia : Q27172
Trichocyst matrix protein T1-B, Paramecium tetraurelia : Q27180
Trichocyst matrix protein T2-A, Paramecium tetraurelia : Q27173
Trichocyst matrix protein T2-B, Paramecium tetraurelia : Q27174
Trichocyst matrix protein T2-C, Paramecium tetraurelia : Q27181
Trichocyst matrix protein T4-A, Paramecium tetraurelia : Q27182
Trichocyst matrix protein T4-C, Paramecium tetraurelia : Q27176
Sticky Business - September 2000
Mussels live in turbulent niches in the intertidal zone of the ocean. Their survival depends on their ability to attach to rocks. They adhere tightly to surfaces under water using a structure at the base of the foot, which consists of a bundle of threads: the byssus. At the end of each thread is an adhesive plaque that contains water-resistant glue which enables mussels to anchor to solid surfaces. (PDF version - 40K bytes)
Swiss-Prot cross references
Adhesive plaque matrix protein 1, Mytilus coruscus (Sea mussel): Q25434
Adhesive plaque matrix protein 1, Mytilus edulis (Blue mussel): Q25460
Adhesive plaque matrix protein 1, Mytilus galloprovincialis (Mediterranean mussel): Q27409
Adhesive plaque matrix protein 2, Mytilus galloprovincialis (Sea mussel): Q25464
Pretty Pigments - September 2000
Had you ever wondered why strawberry ice creams are sometimes so pink? Food colouring is the answer. Natural pigments are widely used in the food industry and have been studied extensively. Long before the art of food colouring, however, there existed Nature’s own art of plant colouring. And its palette is rich. Take betalains for example. Betalains are natural pigments synthesized exclusively in plants of the order Caryophyllales – where you find spinach and beetroot but also purslane, cacti and bougainvillea – and, surprisingly, in toadstools of the order Amanita. (PDF version - 72K bytes)
Swiss-Prot cross references
DOPA 4,5-dioxygenase, Amanita muscaris (Fly agaric): P87064


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