Here in the deep South, our pleasantly cool winter weather is punctuated with the occasional three-or-four-day arctic blast of subfreezing temperatures. During these brief periods, much grumbling can be heard throughout the region. We don’t like the cold.
“That freeze last night killed off the rest of my winter vegetables,” we tell our friends at the local feed and seed store, the one place where such garden casualties are treated with sympathy and concern. “But at least the cold will kill off all the bugs.”
Alas, science is rapidly proving that it simply isn’t so. We now know that insect blood contains a protein that works very effectively as a natural antifreeze. The antifreeze protein prevents ice crystals from growing, so the bugs survive frigid weather and are still very much alive (and really, really hungry) when warm days return.
That’s the BAD news. The GOOD news is that the same handy antifreeze proteins are found in some fish blood, and their amazing properties offer hope for future technology that would allow transplant organs to be safely stored at low temperatures. (The antifreeze protein is already being replicated using yeast that contains a fish gene. And, um, guess where it’s being used? Let’s just say, if you’re eating a Breyers Light Double Churned chocolate ice cream bar right now, you might want to go ahead and finish it all up before you read any further…)