Hypogastrura nivicola is a species of dark blue springtail. Its (US) English name is snow flea, but there are also insects called by that name. They are often seen jumping about on the surface of snow on a warm winter day in North America.
Researchers at Queen's University (Canada) have sequenced and synthesised the anti-freeze-like protein that allows H. nivicola to operate in sub-zero environments, and found it to be glycine-rich, unlike any previously known protein. There are hopes that similar proteins may be useful for storing transplant organs and for producing better ice cream. By preventing the formation of ice crystals in tissues, organs could be stored at lower temperatures, increasing the time of their viability outside a living body. Unlike proteins with similar functions in other species, the protein found in H. nivicola breaks down easily at higher temperatures.
- Snow scorpionfly - a group of insects also (Boreidae) known as snow fleas including:
- John R. Meyer (September 5, 2006). "Collembola". General Entomology. North Carolina State University. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
- Lin FH, et al. (1 March 2007). "Structural modeling of snow flea antifreeze protein". Biophysical Journal. 92 (5): 1717–1723. doi:10.1529/biophysj.106.093435. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
- Simonite, Tom (11 January 2008). "Edible antifreeze promises perfect ice cream". New Scientist. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
- "New antifreeze protein may allow longer storage of transplant organs". Queen's University (Canada). 2005-10-21. (Press release.)
- Pictures and information from Fairfax County Public Schools