Offbeat Goldfish turn to alcohol to get through winter

05:35  13 august  2017
05:35  13 august  2017 Source:   Sky News

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Image: Goldfish can happily survive on alcohol when oxygen is unavailable.

They’ve worked out how and why the fish turn lactic acid in their bodies into alcohol , as a In the absence of oxygen, the consumption of carbohydrates generates lactic acid, which the goldfish can’t get rid of and “The second pathway is only activated through lack of oxygen,” author Dr Michael Berenbrink from If the winter lasts too long, they run out of fuel that’s stored in their livers and die.

  Goldfish turn to alcohol to get through winter © Getty

Scientists have figured out how goldfish produce alcohol to survive when trapped beneath the icy surfaces of frozen lakes and ponds.

Unlike most vertebrates which die within a few minutes without oxygen, goldfish and their wild relatives crucian carp are able to survive for months in oxygen-free water.

Biologically speaking, the fish convert their anaerobically produced lactic acid into ethanol which diffuses across their gills into the surrounding water.

The researchers from the Universities of Oslo and Liverpool have discovered the unusual molecular mechanism behind this unique ability.

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Scientists have figured out how goldfish produce alcohol to survive when trapped beneath the icy surfaces of frozen lakes and ponds. Major disruptions on trains through Woking. It is due to a circuit track failure - with up to 60 minute delays.

Image caption Goldfish and their relatives have the ability to turn lactic acid into alcohol . If the winter lasts too long, they run out of fuel that's stored in their livers and die. Image copyright SPL. Image caption Alas, trying to get the alcohol out of the fish is a pointless pursuit.

They have pinpointed sets of proteins which are normally used to produce energy by channelling carbohydrates towards their breakdown within a cell's mitochondria.

While one set of those proteins is very similar to what other species of vertebrate possess, the second set is uniquely activated by the absence of oxygen.

Dr Michael Berenbrink, an evolutionary physiologist at the University of Liverpool, said that the blood alcohol concentration in these fish can exceed the drink-drive limit during the winter.

"During their time in oxygen-free water in ice-covered ponds, which can last for several months in their northern European habitat, blood alcohol concentrations in crucian carp can reach more than 50mg per 100 millilitres," said Dr Berenbrink.

"However, this is still a much better situation than filling up with lactic acid, which is the metabolic end product for other vertebrates, including humans, when devoid of oxygen."

Lead author Dr Cathrine Elisabeth Fagernes, from the University of Oslo, said: "The ethanol production allows the crucian carp to be the only fish species surviving and exploiting these harsh environments.

"Thereby avoiding competition and escaping predation by other fish species with which they normally interact in better oxygenated waters.

"It's no wonder then that the crucian carp's cousin the goldfish is arguably one of the most resilient pets under human care."

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