High Macromolecular Synthesis with Low Metabolic Cost in Antarctic Sea Urchin Embryos

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Science  09 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5510, pp. 1950-1952
DOI: 10.1126/science.1056341

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Assessing the energy costs of development in extreme environments is important for understanding how organisms can exist at the margins of the biosphere. Macromolecular turnover rates of RNA and protein were measured at –1.5°C during early development of an Antarctic sea urchin. Contrary to expectations of low synthesis with low metabolism at low temperatures, protein and RNA synthesis rates exhibited temperature compensation and were equivalent to rates in temperate sea urchin embryos. High protein metabolism with a low metabolic rate is energetically possible in this Antarctic sea urchin because the energy cost of protein turnover, 0.45 joules per milligram of protein, is 1/25th the values reported for other animals.

  • * Present address: College of Marine Studies, University of Delaware, Lewes, DE 19958, USA.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: Manahan{at}

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