Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

How do animals survive frost?

Despite the long and cold Arctic winter that puts life on standby for 6-8 months a year, the tundra swells with invertebrates such as insects, mites, collembolans, and worms. All these species have developed physiological mechanisms that enable them to either avoid ice formation, or tolerate the formation of ice in the body - well through the entire Arctic winter.

If you are interested in a thesis project that involves exploring ecophysiology of Arctic animals and perhaps discovering something completely new, then this is a great opportunity.

Our approach is to collect animals from arctic or sub-arctic regions, take them back to the laboratory and study their cold tolerance and physiological responses to cold acclimation in controlled laboratory experiments. We can study molecular responses such as expression of central genes, biochemical changes in the cell membrane composition of phospholipids and accumulation of cold-protecting sugars, in addition, we can measure how much ice is formed in the animal using calorimetric methods.