Skip to Content

Insect AntiFreeze

A few years ago, researchers kicked up controversy by proposing to create frost-resistant strawberries by spiking the plants with fish genes-specifically, with the gene for making a protein that helps fish survive in frigid water. While activists reacted strongly against the idea, the real problem was that the scheme just didn’t work, because the fish protein didn’t lower the fruit’s freezing point enough. Researchers have now turned elsewhere in the animal kingdom for plant-defrosting genes with better results. Biologists at Queen’s University in Ontario and the University of Alberta have deciphered the structure of two insect “antifreeze proteins” that are up to 100 times more active than the fish proteins.

With the structure of the natural proteins in hand, the researchers hope to create artificial versions that are cheaper and easier to produce. If it all works out, the first application may be to help preserve transplant organs longer by keeping them colder. Next could come frost-resistant produce and smoother ice cream. The researchers say they are working on licensing agreements with several agricultural biotech companies.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station
Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.

individual aging affects covid outcomes concept
individual aging affects covid outcomes concept

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.