Biochemical adaptations of notothenioid fishes: comparisons between cold temperate South American and New Zealand species and Antarctic species.Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2007 Jul; 147(3):799-807.CB
Fishes of the perciform suborder Notothenioidei afford an excellent opportunity for studying the evolution and functional importance of diverse types of biochemical adaptation to temperature. Antarctic notothenioids have evolved numerous biochemical adaptations to stably cold waters, including antifreeze glycoproteins, which inhibit growth of ice crystals, and enzymatic proteins with cold-adapted specific activities (k(cat) values) and substrate binding abilities (K(m) values), which support metabolism at low temperatures. Antarctic notothenioids also exhibit the loss of certain biochemical traits that are ubiquitous in other fishes, including the heat-shock response (HSR) and, in members of the family Channichthyidae, hemoglobins and myoglobins. Tolerance of warm temperatures is also truncated in stenothermal Antarctic notothenioids. In contrast to Antarctic notothenioids, notothenioid species found in South American and New Zealand waters have biochemistries more reflective of cold-temperate environments. Some of the contemporary non-Antarctic notothenioids likely derive from ancestral species that evolved in the Antarctic and later "escaped" to lower latitude waters when the Antarctic Polar Front temporarily shifted northward during the late Miocene. Studies of cold-temperate notothenioids may enable the timing of critical events in the evolution of Antarctic notothenioids to be determined, notably the chronology of acquisition and amplification of antifreeze glycoprotein genes and the loss of the HSR. Genomic studies may reveal how the gene regulatory networks involved in acclimation to temperature differ between stenotherms like the Antarctic notothenioids and more eurythermal species like cold-temperate notothenioids. Comparative studies of Antarctic and cold-temperate notothenioids thus have high promise for revealing the mechanisms by which temperature-adaptive biochemical traits are acquired - or through which traits that cease to be of advantage under conditions of stable, near-freezing temperatures are lost - during evolution.