Monday, 14 August 2017

Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters

By Matt McGrathEnvironment correspondent

11 August 2017 

Scientists have decoded the secrets behind a goldfish's ability to survive in ice-covered lakes.

They've worked out how and why the fish turn lactic acid in their bodies into alcohol, as a means of staying alive.

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

The researchers say the work may help with the study of some alcohol impacts in humans.

Scientists have known about the peculiar survival abilities of goldfish and their wild relatives, crucian carp, since the 1980s.

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.

Researchers have now uncovered the molecular mechanism behind this ability.

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.

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