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Free Content Extracellular Ice Phase Transitions in Insects

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At temperatures below their temperature of crystallization (Tc) the extracellular body fluids of insects undergo a phase transition from liquid to solid. Insects that survive the transition to equilibrium (complete freezing of the body fluids) are designated as freeze tolerant. Although this phenomenon has been reported and described in many Insecta, current nomenclature and theory does not clearly delineate between the process of transition (freezing) and the final solid phase itself (the frozen state). Thus freeze tolerant insects are currently, by convention, described in terms of the temperature at which the crystallization of their body fluids is initiated, Tc. In fact, the correct descriptor for insects that tolerate freezing is the temperature of equilibrium freezing, Tef. The process of freezing is itself a separate physical event with unique physiological stresses that are associated with ice growth. Correspondingly there are a number of insects whose physiological cryo-limits are very specifically delineated by this transitional envelope. The distinction also has considerable significance for our understanding of insect cryobiology: firstly, because the ability to manage endogenous ice growth is a fundamental segregator of cryotype; and secondly, because our understanding of internal ice management is still largely nascent.

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Keywords: CRYSTALLIZATION; EQUILIBRIUM FREEZING; FREEZE TOLERANCE; INSECTA

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2014

More about this publication?
  • CryoLetters is a bimonthly international journal for low temperature sciences, including cryobiology, cryopreservation or vitrification of cells and tissues, chemical and physical aspects of freezing and drying, and studies involving ecology of cold environments, and cold adaptation

    The journal publishes original research reports, authoritative reviews, technical developments and commissioned book reviews of studies of the effects produced by low temperatures on a wide variety of scientific and technical processes, or those involving low temperature techniques in the investigation of physical, chemical, biological and ecological problems.

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