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SPECIAL ISSUE: Biochemical adaptation: conservation and innovation in the face of environmental change



Summary: Studies over the past 40 years have shown that one to a few amino acid substitutions are sufficient to alter enzyme function in temperature-adaptive ways, but that these substitutions can occur in a variety of locations throughout the protein.

Summary: RNA editing can be used by organisms to regulate their physiological response to the environment. Recent studies show that it is used more frequently than previously suspected.

Summary: Abiotic factors, such as temperature and the tidal cycle, drive patterns of gene expression in Mytilus mussels that underlie whole-organism physiological states, which, in turn, influence biogeographic distributions.

Summary: Antarctic notothenioid fishes have undergone biochemical losses and gains during long-term adaptation to cold; the processes underlying thermal tolerance and acclimation capacity of these cold-specialized animals are examined in the context of climate change.

Summary: Ice-binding proteins and glycolipids evolved independently multiple times to assist subzero temperature survival in diverse organisms, both freeze-tolerant and freeze-avoiding. Their physiological functions in animals are reviewed.

Summary: A view of why current theories provide an inadequate mechanistic account of the effects of temperature on aerobic metabolic processes across levels of organization from individual proteins to intact animals.

Summary: This review covers the ROS-producing and -scavenging reactions of mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum and peroxisome and compares these to the actual proteomic responses of marine organisms to environmentally induced oxidative stress.

Summary: Biochemical adaptation to environmental stressors involves not only evolution of changes in macromolecular structures, but also selection for protective cellular micromolecules such as osmolytes and piezolytes in the deep sea.

Summary: The apparent convergent evolution of diapause in brine shrimp and annual killifish has occurred at the physiological level, via unique molecular mechanisms. This review underscores the central importance of physiological, rather than molecular, responses to environmental stress.

Summary: Some fishes have evolved high salinity stress tolerance (euryhalinity), favoring adaptive radiation in a climate of rapidly changing and fluctuating salinity. The mechanisms underlying euryhalinity of fishes are outlined.

Summary: Comparative transcriptomics is rapidly accelerating our understanding of how fish respond to thermal stress; this review summarizes and synthesizes gene expression patterns from stenothermal and eurythermal species responding to acute and long-term exposure to temperature.

Summary: The ability of transcriptomics to identify genes that underlie environmental adaptation is explored in the context of recent systems-level experiments that provide new insights into the relationship between gene expression and fitness.

Summary: The UT family experienced a dynamic evolutionary trajectory in vertebrates, and we propose that this phylogeny is intricately linked to the diverse physiological functions of urea and to the multiple ureogenic pathways in vertebrates.

Summary: Physiological adaptation to ocean acidification has been widely studied using comparative and experimental approaches, yet the biochemical bases for adaptation is not well characterized.

Summary: We review how temporal, spatial and physiological variation have potentially synergistic effects on the thermal performance of individuals and conclude that several challenges must be overcome to fully incorporate small-scale variation into predictions of climate change.

Summary: Recent nucleic acid sequencing data provide compelling evidence that animals live in a microbial world and that microbes have shaped animal biology, including their biochemistry and physiology, over evolutionary time.

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