2012-2013 Science Planning Summaries
U.S. Antarctic Program - Science Support Section United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
Redox balance in Antarctic notothenioid fishes: Do icefishes have an advantage?

Program Manager:
Dr. Diana Nemergut


ASC POC/Implementer:
Addie Coyac / Philip Spindler

Dr. Kristin M. O'Brien (Principal Investigator)

University of Alaska Fairbanks
Institute of Arctic Biology
Fairbanks, Alaska

Supporting Stations:  ARSV Laurence M. Gould, Palmer Station
Research Locations:  Fishing Grounds / Palmer Station aquaria and lab

Project Description:
This project seeks to understand the characteristics of physiology and biochemistry of Antarctic fishes that are compatible with life at body temperatures of about 0-degrees Centigrade. Researchers are particularly interested in differences in respiratory and cardiovascular physiologies between hemoglobinless (-Hb) icefishes and their red-blooded (+Hb) notothenioid relatives. This project focuses on the role of hemoglobin and myoglobin in promoting oxidative stress in Antarctic fishes.

Field Season Overview:
Participants will deploy onboard the ARSV Laurence M. Gould to collect specimens of Antarctic channichthyid icefish and red-blooded nototheniid species using Otter trawls and buoyed and anchored fish traps. The live specimens will be transported to Palmer Station's aquarium for sample preparation. At the station, team members will focus activities on measurements of protein turnover in whole animals, energetic costs of protein synthesis in isolated cells and preparation of frozen and fixed samples for return and more extensive analyses at the home institutions. Over the course of three LMG cruises, the group will alternatively fish and work in the Palmer Station labs. Fishing locations include Dallmann Bay (area of Astrolabe Needle), off the south shore of Low Island, the southeastern shore of Livingston Island and other areas. The group will also use sets of buoyed and anchored baited fish pots (traps). The advantage of traps is that fishing operations can be conducted at sites where bottom trawls cannot be deployed successfully and recent experience has shown that baited pots are a more effective means of collecting some (but not all) of the target species than are benthic trawls. At Palmer Station, investigators will conduct experiments with live fishes and with material prepared from their tissues. They will occasionally use Zodiacs for hook-and-line fishing or setting fish traps in the local boating area.

Deploying Team Members:

  • Elizabeth Crockett (Co-PI)
  • Kristin O'Brien (PI)
  • Jody Wujcik

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Curator: Esther L. Hill PhD, Antarctic Support Contract   |   NSF Official: Alexandra Isern, Office of Polar Programs