Osmotic stress effects on the freezing tolerance of the antarctic nematode Panagrolaimus davidi

J Comp Physiol B. 1996;166(5):344-9. doi: 10.1007/BF02439922.


The freezing and freezing survival of the Antarctic nematode Panagrolaimus davidi after exposure to solutions of different osmotic concentrations has been examined using a thermoelectric cooling stage and multi-specimen cooling block to see if there is any evidence that freeze-induced desiccation prevents inoculative freezing. The nematodes froze in all the test solutions used (up to 1138 mosmol.l-1) and at all cooling rates and nucleation temperatures tested. Freezing survival was at its maximum in 0.1 mol.l-1 NaCl in artificial tap water after 1 h exposure to the test solution and in artificial tap water after 24 h exposure. Hyperosmotic and hyposmotic stress adversely affected the nematodes' ability to survive freezing. In nonfrozen controls survival declined with increasing osmolality of the test solution. Measurements of the osmolality of water extracted from a variety of moss samples indicate that the nematodes are exposed to an osmotic concentration of about 9 mosmol.l-1 in their natural habitat. This is close to that of artificial tap water. Our experiments, and measurements of freeze concentration effects in the literature, indicate that freeze-induced desiccation is unlikely to prevent inoculative freezing and the survival of nematodes over the winter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antarctic Regions
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Freezing
  • Gold*
  • Nematoda / physiology*
  • Osmosis / physiology
  • Osmotic Pressure


  • Gold