Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Phospholipids of the Deep...

I know it's going to seem like I am fawning over the Deep Sea News blog (and I guess I am a bit), but this post was really too relevant to pass up...

Their newest "Thing to know about the deep sea" post basically discusses everything we covered in the first term of class - biochemistry, cell membranes, phospholipds, saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, transport across membranes, enzyme kinetcis, etc. - all with a deep sea twist. In fact, I bet you guys could figure out some of the details given what you learned back at the beginning of the semester.

In fact, before you click over to their post, think about the following details about the deep sea and how it might affect the biochemistry of cell membranes and enzymes (this is a good way to review the past material too!):

a) In the deep sea pressure on cell membranes may be as much as 1,000x more than on land.
b) The deep sea is very cold (as low as -1 degree C)

How do you think these two things would affect:
1) The fluidity of cell membranes
2) The function of enzymes

And how do you think deep sea critters have handled these effects? Post your ideas here in the comment section before moving on to check out the post.

Deep Sea Biochemistry (post your ideas here before clicking over - don't cheat!)


Spielah said...

I think that the fluidity of the cell membrane would have to be adjusted if they lived in those conditions. It would most likely be very thick membranes to their cells. This would most likely be for insulation purposes. Enzymes would function at a slower pace, making the living organisms in the deep sea very odd. Their immune systems must be very weak because they are so slow. I guess being that deep in the sea there probably isn't too many things to make them sick anyway. Anyways, those are my thoughts I suppose, better check out the real answers. I'm a busy blogger.

yiweigu said...

I have to not agree. Why can't them organismals live with what they got. Cell membranes have adjustable mechanisma with lotsa charisma. They don't gotta be thin, or else all the watter gonna go in. They's going to be a lot of bloating, and not a lot of floating. What they have to have is some sort of heating mechanism, or else won't they freeze. By da way, if the temperature is that low, then shouldn't watter freeze?
I is seen solar vents but otherwise why would organisms choose to even live there. The ocean is big.

PS.Please excuse me grammar.

Jim Lemire said...


Craig McClain said...

We actually know very little about whether viruses exist in the deep sea and infect the organisms that live there. Indeed, we know very little about marine viruses what so ever. Our best guess, based on other research, is that just like all environments we would expect to find them.

You make a good point about how deep-sea organisms would deal with cold temperatures. Although they do not have a heater they possess special proteins and enzymes that prevent freezing. Water doesn't freeze at deep depths because pressure keeps water forming a crystal matrix (i.e. ice)