As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Surviving Fasting in the Cold

July 2, 2013 — King penguin chicks survive harsh winters with almost no food by minimising the cost of energy production. A new study, to be presented at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting in Valencia on the 3rd July, shows that the efficiency of the mitochondria, the power house of the cell, is increased in fasted king penguin chicks.

King penguin chicks are socially and morphologically well adapted to harsh environmental conditions, however, they experience a severe energy challenge during the cold sub-Antarctic winter, when food is not readily available. Research headed by Pierre-Axel Monternier and Prof Damien Roussel at the Ecology of Natural and Man-impacted Hydrosystems laboratory in France looked, for the first time, at how the king penguin chicks' mitochondria in skeletal muscle, the main heat producing tissue in birds, function during fasting in the winter.

Pierre-Axel Monternier said: "We found that the efficiency of mitochondrial functioning increased in fasted winter-acclimatized king penguin chicks. This indicates that less substrate/oxygen was consumed to produce the same amount of energy in the form of ATP, showing that mitochondria from fasted chicks adjust its functioning to minimize the cost of energy production."

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