Living in Antarctic waters that hover above freezing is challenging for any creature. A new study by researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory has revealed how octopuses have learned to adapt and can cope with these extreme environmental conditions.
The researchers studied the various enzymes that play a crucial role in the functioning of the central nervous system and found that one of them plays a pivotal role in allowing the octopus to tolerate these colder conditions.
According to Joshua Rosenthal, a senior scientist at MBL:
“We looked in real detail at a very important enzyme for the nervous system, the sodium-potassium pump, and we asked, ‘Where do we see most of these sites of adaptation?’”
Miguel Holmgren, a membrane protein biophysicist at the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and a longtime summer Whitman investigator at MBL, added:
“It makes sense to us…Once we have studied more membrane proteins, I think we will see more examples of this.”