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Antarctic fish can survive prolonged exposure to elevated temperatures


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The Antarctic notothenioid Pagothenia borchgrevinki was collected from the stenothermal waters of McMurdo Sound in the summers of 2004, 2005 and 2006. Acclimation ability at 4° C was tested in healthy P. borchgrevinki and in individuals infected with x-cell gill disease. All healthy fish successfully acclimated to 4° C, establishing compensatory changes in resting oxygen consumption rate (Rrest) and critical swimming speed (Ucrit) during a 1 month acclimation period, which were maintained during a longer, 6 month acclimation period. In contrast, individuals infected with x-cell disease were unable to acclimate to 4° C, demonstrating significantly reduced survival rates compared with healthy individuals at 4° C. Measurements of Rrest suggest that limitations in the ability of x-cell fish to uptake oxygen from the external milieu may have a negative effect on their survival at 4° C.