Discussion:
Fish turn to alcohol to survive cold
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occam
2017-08-12 07:32:49 UTC
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There is an interesting science story on the BBC News page.

"Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters"
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40899192

What piqued my interest was the following sentence:

"Some goldfish were found to have levels well above legal drink-driving
limits in many countries."

I was under the impression that drink-driving limits were set according
to the mg of alcohol/ 100mililiters of blood in the human body. I was
not aware that this measure also applied to cold-blooded animals. If
they are cold-blooded i.e. cannot regulate their body temperature via
blood circulation, how can alcohol help?

Next time I travel, I'll be looking out for that exclusive bottle of
Duty Free brewed from lactic acid, just the way fish like it.
Peter Duncanson [BrE]
2017-08-12 10:49:11 UTC
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Post by occam
There is an interesting science story on the BBC News page.
"Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters"
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40899192
"Some goldfish were found to have levels well above legal drink-driving
limits in many countries."
I was under the impression that drink-driving limits were set according
to the mg of alcohol/ 100mililiters of blood in the human body. I was
not aware that this measure also applied to cold-blooded animals. If
they are cold-blooded i.e. cannot regulate their body temperature via
blood circulation, how can alcohol help?
The article explains. It is nothing go do with the body temperature. The
lakes in whci the goldfish are living are ice-covered. That prevents
oxygen getting into the water.

While humans and most vertebrates die in a few minutes without
oxygen, these fish are able to survive for months in icy conditions
in ponds and lakes in northern Europe.

In most animals there is a single set of proteins that channel
carbohydrates towards the mitochondria, which are the power packs of
cells.

In the absence of oxygen, the consumption of carbohydrates generates
lactic acid, which the goldfish can't get rid of and which kills
them in minutes.

Luckily, these fish have evolved a second set of proteins that take
over in the absence of oxygen and convert the lactic acid to
alcohol, which can then be dispersed through the gills.

"The second pathway is only activated through lack of oxygen,"
author Dr Michael Berenbrink from the University of Liverpool, UK,
told BBC News.

"The ice cover closes them off from the air, so when the pond is
ice-covered the fish consumes all the oxygen and then it switches
over to the alcohol." [1]

The longer they are in freezing, airless conditions the higher the
alcohol levels in the fish become.

Despite the fact that the fish are literally filled to the gills
with alcohol, it's not the drink that kills them. If the winter
lasts too long, they run out of fuel that's stored in their livers
and die.

[1] I think that is misleading. The fish doesn't uses alcohol as an
alternative to oxygen. The alcohol is a waste product of a process that
takes place in the absence of oxygen.
Post by occam
Next time I travel, I'll be looking out for that exclusive bottle of
Duty Free brewed from lactic acid, just the way fish like it.
--
Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.usage.english)
Whiskers
2017-08-12 14:32:21 UTC
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Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by occam
There is an interesting science story on the BBC News page.
"Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters"
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40899192
"Some goldfish were found to have levels well above legal drink-driving
limits in many countries."
I was under the impression that drink-driving limits were set according
to the mg of alcohol/ 100mililiters of blood in the human body. I was
not aware that this measure also applied to cold-blooded animals. If
they are cold-blooded i.e. cannot regulate their body temperature via
blood circulation, how can alcohol help?
The article explains. It is nothing go do with the body temperature. The
lakes in whci the goldfish are living are ice-covered. That prevents
oxygen getting into the water.
While humans and most vertebrates die in a few minutes without
oxygen, these fish are able to survive for months in icy conditions
in ponds and lakes in northern Europe.
In most animals there is a single set of proteins that channel
carbohydrates towards the mitochondria, which are the power packs of
cells.
In the absence of oxygen, the consumption of carbohydrates generates
lactic acid, which the goldfish can't get rid of and which kills
them in minutes.
Luckily, these fish have evolved a second set of proteins that take
over in the absence of oxygen and convert the lactic acid to
alcohol, which can then be dispersed through the gills.
"The second pathway is only activated through lack of oxygen,"
author Dr Michael Berenbrink from the University of Liverpool, UK,
told BBC News.
"The ice cover closes them off from the air, so when the pond is
ice-covered the fish consumes all the oxygen and then it switches
over to the alcohol." [1]
The longer they are in freezing, airless conditions the higher the
alcohol levels in the fish become.
Despite the fact that the fish are literally filled to the gills
with alcohol, it's not the drink that kills them. If the winter
lasts too long, they run out of fuel that's stored in their livers
and die.
[1] I think that is misleading. The fish doesn't uses alcohol as an
alternative to oxygen. The alcohol is a waste product of a process that
takes place in the absence of oxygen.
Post by occam
Next time I travel, I'll be looking out for that exclusive bottle of
Duty Free brewed from lactic acid, just the way fish like it.
If the fish are excreting alcohol, then the ponds are going to contain
alcohol - which is an 'anti-freeze', so the fish may be hastening the
melting of the ice, as well as just surviving.

The Register has an article puffed up from the same press release
<http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/08/12/goldfish_carp_oxygen_ethanol/>.
--
-- ^^^^^^^^^^
-- Whiskers
-- ~~~~~~~~~~
Peter T. Daniels
2017-08-12 14:41:52 UTC
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Post by Whiskers
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by occam
There is an interesting science story on the BBC News page.
"Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters"
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40899192
"Some goldfish were found to have levels well above legal drink-driving
limits in many countries."
We say "drunk driving." The offense is called either DUI or DWI -- Driving
Under the Influence, or Driving While Intoxicated.
Post by Whiskers
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
Post by occam
I was under the impression that drink-driving limits were set according
to the mg of alcohol/ 100mililiters of blood in the human body. I was
not aware that this measure also applied to cold-blooded animals. If
they are cold-blooded i.e. cannot regulate their body temperature via
blood circulation, how can alcohol help?
The article explains. It is nothing go do with the body temperature. The
lakes in whci the goldfish are living are ice-covered. That prevents
oxygen getting into the water.
While humans and most vertebrates die in a few minutes without
oxygen, these fish are able to survive for months in icy conditions
in ponds and lakes in northern Europe.
In most animals there is a single set of proteins that channel
carbohydrates towards the mitochondria, which are the power packs of
cells.
In the absence of oxygen, the consumption of carbohydrates generates
lactic acid, which the goldfish can't get rid of and which kills
them in minutes.
Luckily, these fish have evolved a second set of proteins that take
over in the absence of oxygen and convert the lactic acid to
alcohol, which can then be dispersed through the gills.
"The second pathway is only activated through lack of oxygen,"
author Dr Michael Berenbrink from the University of Liverpool, UK,
told BBC News.
"The ice cover closes them off from the air, so when the pond is
ice-covered the fish consumes all the oxygen and then it switches
over to the alcohol." [1]
The longer they are in freezing, airless conditions the higher the
alcohol levels in the fish become.
Despite the fact that the fish are literally filled to the gills
with alcohol, it's not the drink that kills them. If the winter
lasts too long, they run out of fuel that's stored in their livers
and die.
[1] I think that is misleading. The fish doesn't uses alcohol as an
alternative to oxygen. The alcohol is a waste product of a process that
takes place in the absence of oxygen.
If the fish are excreting alcohol, then the ponds are going to contain
alcohol - which is an 'anti-freeze', so the fish may be hastening the
melting of the ice, as well as just surviving.
Ain't Evolution wonderful?
Post by Whiskers
The Register has an article puffed up from the same press release
<http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/08/12/goldfish_carp_oxygen_ethanol/>.
Quinn C
2017-08-14 13:22:12 UTC
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Post by Whiskers
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
"The second pathway is only activated through lack of oxygen,"
author Dr Michael Berenbrink from the University of Liverpool, UK,
told BBC News.
"The ice cover closes them off from the air, so when the pond is
ice-covered the fish consumes all the oxygen and then it switches
over to the alcohol." [1]
The longer they are in freezing, airless conditions the higher the
alcohol levels in the fish become.
[...]
[1] I think that is misleading. The fish doesn't uses alcohol as an
alternative to oxygen. The alcohol is a waste product of a process that
takes place in the absence of oxygen.
If the fish are excreting alcohol, then the ponds are going to contain
alcohol - which is an 'anti-freeze', so the fish may be hastening the
melting of the ice, as well as just surviving.
In a radio report on the story, it was mentioned that the alcohol
content of the ponds gradually rise during the winter.

My first thought when I heard the headline was that they'd use
alcohol as antifreeze for their body, but that isn't the issue.

While the special process allows them to survive, it doesn't give
them enough energy to do much.

The most fascinating information to me was that the existence of
the two processes is likely due to a completely doubled DNA set,
where one set of genes could evolve while the other kept the old
function.
--
If you kill one person, you go to jail; if you kill 20, you go
to an institution for the insane; if you kill 20,000, you get
political asylum. -- Reed Brody, special counsel
for prosecutions at Human Rights Watch
Whiskers
2017-08-14 15:31:49 UTC
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Post by Quinn C
Post by Whiskers
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
"The second pathway is only activated through lack of oxygen,"
author Dr Michael Berenbrink from the University of Liverpool, UK,
told BBC News.
"The ice cover closes them off from the air, so when the pond is
ice-covered the fish consumes all the oxygen and then it switches
over to the alcohol." [1]
The longer they are in freezing, airless conditions the higher the
alcohol levels in the fish become.
[...]
[1] I think that is misleading. The fish doesn't uses alcohol as an
alternative to oxygen. The alcohol is a waste product of a process that
takes place in the absence of oxygen.
If the fish are excreting alcohol, then the ponds are going to contain
alcohol - which is an 'anti-freeze', so the fish may be hastening the
melting of the ice, as well as just surviving.
In a radio report on the story, it was mentioned that the alcohol
content of the ponds gradually rise during the winter.
My first thought when I heard the headline was that they'd use
alcohol as antifreeze for their body, but that isn't the issue.
While the special process allows them to survive, it doesn't give
them enough energy to do much.
The most fascinating information to me was that the existence of
the two processes is likely due to a completely doubled DNA set,
where one set of genes could evolve while the other kept the old
function.
Probably a case of spontaneous mutation (or several, possibly triggered
by radiation?) resulting in a useful inherited trait.
--
-- ^^^^^^^^^^
-- Whiskers
-- ~~~~~~~~~~
Snidely
2017-08-21 09:23:59 UTC
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Post by Whiskers
Post by Quinn C
Post by Whiskers
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
"The second pathway is only activated through lack of oxygen,"
author Dr Michael Berenbrink from the University of Liverpool, UK,
told BBC News.
"The ice cover closes them off from the air, so when the pond is
ice-covered the fish consumes all the oxygen and then it switches
over to the alcohol." [1]
The longer they are in freezing, airless conditions the higher the
alcohol levels in the fish become.
[...]
[1] I think that is misleading. The fish doesn't uses alcohol as an
alternative to oxygen. The alcohol is a waste product of a process that
takes place in the absence of oxygen.
If the fish are excreting alcohol, then the ponds are going to contain
alcohol - which is an 'anti-freeze', so the fish may be hastening the
melting of the ice, as well as just surviving.
In a radio report on the story, it was mentioned that the alcohol
content of the ponds gradually rise during the winter.
My first thought when I heard the headline was that they'd use
alcohol as antifreeze for their body, but that isn't the issue.
While the special process allows them to survive, it doesn't give
them enough energy to do much.
The most fascinating information to me was that the existence of
the two processes is likely due to a completely doubled DNA set,
where one set of genes could evolve while the other kept the old
function.
Probably a case of spontaneous mutation (or several, possibly triggered
by radiation?) resulting in a useful inherited trait.
Doubling of genes is usually a cell division error, AIUI. Incorrect
repair of a dangling bit.

/dps
--
Trust, but verify.
Quinn C
2017-08-21 16:16:53 UTC
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Post by Snidely
Post by Whiskers
Post by Quinn C
Post by Whiskers
Post by Peter Duncanson [BrE]
"The second pathway is only activated through lack of oxygen,"
author Dr Michael Berenbrink from the University of Liverpool, UK,
told BBC News.
"The ice cover closes them off from the air, so when the pond is
ice-covered the fish consumes all the oxygen and then it switches
over to the alcohol." [1]
The longer they are in freezing, airless conditions the higher the
alcohol levels in the fish become.
[...]
[1] I think that is misleading. The fish doesn't uses alcohol as an
alternative to oxygen. The alcohol is a waste product of a process that
takes place in the absence of oxygen.
If the fish are excreting alcohol, then the ponds are going to contain
alcohol - which is an 'anti-freeze', so the fish may be hastening the
melting of the ice, as well as just surviving.
In a radio report on the story, it was mentioned that the alcohol
content of the ponds gradually rise during the winter.
My first thought when I heard the headline was that they'd use
alcohol as antifreeze for their body, but that isn't the issue.
While the special process allows them to survive, it doesn't give
them enough energy to do much.
The most fascinating information to me was that the existence of
the two processes is likely due to a completely doubled DNA set,
where one set of genes could evolve while the other kept the old
function.
Probably a case of spontaneous mutation (or several, possibly triggered
by radiation?) resulting in a useful inherited trait.
Doubling of genes is usually a cell division error, AIUI. Incorrect
repair of a dangling bit.
Common in plants, rare in animals, I was told.
--
Humans write software and while a piece of software might be
bug free humans are not. - Robert Klemme
Pavel Svinchnik
2017-08-21 17:32:39 UTC
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Post by occam
There is an interesting science story on the BBC News page.
"Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters"
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40899192
"Some goldfish were found to have levels well above legal drink-driving
limits in many countries."
I was under the impression that drink-driving limits were set according
to the mg of alcohol/ 100mililiters of blood in the human body. I was
not aware that this measure also applied to cold-blooded animals. If
they are cold-blooded i.e. cannot regulate their body temperature via
blood circulation, how can alcohol help?
Next time I travel, I'll be looking out for that exclusive bottle of
Duty Free brewed from lactic acid, just the way fish like it.
This could explain the popularity of ice fishing.

Paul
s***@gmail.com
2017-08-21 19:52:33 UTC
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Post by Pavel Svinchnik
Post by occam
There is an interesting science story on the BBC News page.
"Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters"
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40899192
"Some goldfish were found to have levels well above legal drink-driving
limits in many countries."
I was under the impression that drink-driving limits were set according
to the mg of alcohol/ 100mililiters of blood in the human body. I was
not aware that this measure also applied to cold-blooded animals. If
they are cold-blooded i.e. cannot regulate their body temperature via
blood circulation, how can alcohol help?
Next time I travel, I'll be looking out for that exclusive bottle of
Duty Free brewed from lactic acid, just the way fish like it.
This could explain the popularity of ice fishing.
I thought ice fishing started with alcohol above the lake (by at least 0.5 cm)

/dps

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