2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
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2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Characterizing protein homeostasis and the regulatory mechanisms controlling molecular chaperone expression in the highly stenothermal notothenioid fish, Trematomus bernacchii

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Jennifer Burns / Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham / Elizabeth Kauffman

Principal Investigator

Dr. Sean Place

Sonoma State University
Department of Biology
Rohnert Park, California


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: McMurdo Sound sea ice


Antarctic fishes are distinguished by physiological adaptations that enable them to thrive in below-freezing waters. Consequently, they have lost some traits that enable survival in more variable environments. This study aims to identify regulatory mechanisms that control expression of the heat-shock response in a key fish species of the Southern Ocean, Trematomus bernacchii (T. bernacchii), and to determine if this mechanism has been permanently lost in this species. Ultimately, the study can infer how these fish might adapt to the effects of climate change in the Southern Ocean.

Field Season Overview

Participants will reside on station and make day trips by Pisten Bully and snowmobile to their sea ice sampling locations where they will fish for live T. bernacchii specimens. A fish hut will be stationed at Cape Evans Wall, and the group will also use a dedicated portable Apple hut mounted on a sled to access short term sampling locations. They will use a Jiffy drill to create holes in the sea ice, and fish will be collected using a long line and barb-less hook with synthetic bait. Thirty to forty live T. bernacchii fish will be collected each season. Fish (11” to 14” long) will be transported to Crary Laboratory in a water cooler outfitted with a battery-operated air pump. Fish will be held in tanks of varying temperature treatments in the aquarium lab for several weeks. Following temperature treatment, various tissue samples will be collected from each fish and cultured in cold rooms or flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen for shipment home. The group may divide into teams of two in order to continue laboratory experiments while additional samples are collected from the field. The group will typically collect fish in the morning, return to station to work in the laboratory in the afternoon, and will then go out again and return with more samples later in the evening. They will not overnight in the field.

Deploying Team Members

  • Samuel Bogan
  • Kristen Hosek
  • Sean Place (PI)
  • Anthony Tercero