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Frosty the Snow Flea
January 4, 2013 2:42 PM   Subscribe

I went skiing today and looked down and the snow was covered with snow fleas. Research at Queen's University (Canada) have sequenced and synthesised the anti-freeze-like protein that allows snow fleas to operate in sub-zero environments.
posted by Xurando (26 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Snow FLEAS? Why is this a thing?
posted by Twain Device at 2:48 PM on January 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Are you saying they're going to put snow fleas in my moose tracks?!!!
posted by Capricorn13 at 2:50 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Scientists have spliced a similar antifreeze gene from Arctic flounder into strawberries to extend their growing season in northern climates.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:55 PM on January 4, 2013




Scientists have spliced a similar antifreeze gene from Arctic flounder into strawberries to extend their growing season in northern climates.

Holy Apocalypse! Strawfish or Flounberries? This abomination must be stopped. We must label all strawberries grown in northern climates as flounder strawberries, with the potential to do no harm.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:57 PM on January 4, 2013


Antifreeze? We wanted you to create anti-fleas!
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:59 PM on January 4, 2013 [17 favorites]


To be clear, the edible protein in the New Scientist article is a particular protein isolated from a partial enzymatic digestion of gelatine, which happens to be similar in sequence to snow flea antifreeze. They're not using the snow flea antifreeze protein itself.

Still, fascinating and I actually didn't know about snow fleas before this post - thanks! Apparently they are arthropods (collembola) but technically not insects.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:04 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great. Now I'm going to be so paranoid about snow fleas, I'll not see the large tree I'm about to ski into.
posted by arcticseal at 3:04 PM on January 4, 2013


Scientists have spliced a similar antifreeze gene from Arctic flounder into strawberries to extend their growing season in northern climates.
Do the seeds all migrate to the upper side of the strawberry as it grows?
posted by b1tr0t at 3:06 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


To be clear, the edible protein in the New Scientist article is a [...]
Now I want all my magazines printed on edible protein. Declicious edible protein. Possibly strawberry-flounder flavor.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:07 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now I want all my magazines printed on edible protein. Declicious edible protein. Possibly strawberry-flounder flavor.

At least that way you can eat your words when Hell freezes over.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:09 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now I want all my magazines printed on edible protein. Declicious edible protein. Possibly strawberry-flounder flavor.

At least that way you can eat your words when Hell freezes over.


Given a chance, that idea could snowball.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:13 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


...he said frostily.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:14 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh gosh, these are actually adorable! They aren't really like fleas at all! They totes eat algae and not your body juices, and they have a TINY LITTLE SPRING LEVER that pops outta their butts right before they jump!
posted by lazaruslong at 3:19 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


A Snøw Flea once bit my sister ... No realli.
posted by Splunge at 3:29 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh gosh, these are actually adorable! They aren't really like fleas at all! They totes eat algae and not your body juices, and they have a TINY LITTLE SPRING LEVER that pops outta their butts right before they jump!

These are totally Cooties.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:32 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


That first link takes me back.

What we do know is that when the snow fleas congregate, the end of winter is not far off.

I remember my Grandmama saying this to me, late one November, teaching me the folk wisdom she learned as a child.

In preparation for our departure, I decommission the bone boiling pot.

Again, I remember growing up, when Grandmama and Grandpapa said "it's time to decommission the bone boiling pot." And we all gathered together for an old-fashioned decommissioning.

For now, the bones we collected this winter will wait here in the bone shed.

Don't we all remember the bone sheds of our youth? I live in a big city now, and I've tried to keep the tradition alive, but some of my neighbors don't approve of the bone shed that I keep in my apartment.

The skull of another old cow moose shows severe periodontal disease.

This sentence was the one that made me the most homesick. I remember brushing the cow moose teeth, trying to keep them clean - this was something we just had to do back home - but now that I've moved to the big city I worry that nobody is left back home to brush the cow moose teeth, because Grandmama is too busy in the bone shed.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:46 PM on January 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


Also see: Ice Worms

We were at our cabin in the mountains of Southern California and these things were all over the ground... harmless but kind of disturbing since the dog's paws picked them up and tracked them in the house...

Now they don't live in California according to what I read, but there they were...
posted by Huck500 at 4:54 PM on January 4, 2013


One of the fungi I study is found in Collembola. If anyone decides to microdissect a snow flea and it's full of trichomycete, I call dibs.

(even if that genus is near impossible to sequence... grumble)
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:02 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quote from the linked Wiki article...
"There are hopes that similar proteins may be useful for storing transplant organs and for producing better ice cream."
Hi, we're Canada: We've got our priorities RIGHT!TM
posted by Zack_Replica at 6:38 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


About 10 or 15 years ago when I was a grad student I used to attend an annual Canadian insect biotechnology conference and there was always a contingent from Queen's working on antifreeze proteins. Back then their model insect was the spruce budworm, and along with the predicted applications for ice cream, they used to put up a joke slide advertising "Spruce Budweiser Ice Beer". Seeing that they're still grinding away at this research is kind of cool yet at the same time makes me glad I left academia.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:02 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The video describes the snow flea behavior and grazing patterns as similar to those of bison. Now I want bison with butt-levers that pop out and fling them a hundred yards over to the next meadow.
posted by carsonb at 8:07 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh gosh, these are actually adorable!

This statement. I must object to it.
posted by Glinn at 9:14 PM on January 4, 2013


This is about a pretty fascinating subject, thanks for posting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:14 PM on January 4, 2013


That snow fleas have antifreeze puts to rest, once and for all, whether Fox In Socks is a work of fiction or not.
posted by nonspecialist at 5:52 AM on January 5, 2013


Kudos for differentiating from Queens (Ireland)
posted by Damienmce at 11:26 AM on January 5, 2013


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