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Concept: Cold


Recent climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula is well documented [1-5], with warming, alongside increases in precipitation, wind strength, and melt season length [1, 6, 7], driving environmental change [8, 9]. However, meteorological records mostly began in the 1950s, and paleoenvironmental datasets that provide a longer-term context to recent climate change are limited in number and often from single sites [7] and/or discontinuous in time [10, 11]. Here we use moss bank cores from a 600-km transect from Green Island (65.3°S) to Elephant Island (61.1°S) as paleoclimate archives sensitive to regional temperature change, moderated by water availability and surface microclimate [12, 13]. Mosses grow slowly, but cold temperatures minimize decomposition, facilitating multi-proxy analysis of preserved peat [14]. Carbon isotope discrimination (Δ(13)C) in cellulose indicates the favorability of conditions for photosynthesis [15]. Testate amoebae are representative heterotrophs in peatlands [16-18], so their populations are an indicator of microbial productivity [14]. Moss growth and mass accumulation rates represent the balance between growth and decomposition [19]. Analyzing these proxies in five cores at three sites over 150 years reveals increased biological activity over the past ca. 50 years, in response to climate change. We identified significant changepoints in all sites and proxies, suggesting fundamental and widespread changes in the terrestrial biosphere. The regional sensitivity of moss growth to past temperature rises suggests that terrestrial ecosystems will alter rapidly under future warming, leading to major changes in the biology and landscape of this iconic region-an Antarctic greening to parallel well-established observations in the Arctic [20].

Concepts: Plant, Climate, Weather, Temperature, Antarctica, Cold, Peat, Moss


Although studies have provided estimates of premature deaths attributable to either heat or cold in selected countries, none has so far offered a systematic assessment across the whole temperature range in populations exposed to different climates. We aimed to quantify the total mortality burden attributable to non-optimum ambient temperature, and the relative contributions from heat and cold and from moderate and extreme temperatures.

Concepts: Demography, Climate, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Heat, Entropy, Cold, Thermal radiation


Tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) breeding success in Ithaca, NY, USA, over the past quarter century has shown generally healthy fledgling production punctuated by years of high nestling mortality. This study tested the potential effects that temperature may have on the food supply and breeding success of swallows. Data from 17 years of daily insect samples were used to relate flying insect abundances to daily maximum temperatures and to define “cold snaps” as strings of consecutive days when the maximum temperatures did not exceed critical temperatures. The distributions of cold snaps and chick mortality events were investigated both through detailed reconstructions of the fates and fate dates of individual chicks, focused on the three breeding seasons of lowest fledging success, and with less detailed brood-level analyses of a larger 11-year dataset including years of more moderate mortality. Mark-recapture analyses of daily brood survival rate (DSR) reveal very strong support for the effects of cold temperatures on brood survival rates, and all the top models agree on a critical temperature of 18.5 °C for insect flight activity in Ithaca. The individual-level analyses, focused on years of higher mortality, favored a 3-day cold snap definition as the most predictive of DSR effects, whereas the larger-scale brood-level analyses revealed 1- and 2-day cold snaps as having the most significant effects on DSR. Regardless, all analyses reveal that, in an age of generally warmer climates, the largest effect of weather on swallow fledgling production is from cold temperatures.

Concepts: Insect, Temperature, Bird, Cold, Swallow, Insect flight, Tree Swallow, Tachycineta


The TRPM8 channel is a principal cold transducer that is expressed on some primary afferents of the somatic and cranial sensory systems. However, it is uncertain whether TRPM8-expressing afferent neurons have the ability to convey innocuous and noxious cold stimuli with sensory discrimination between the two sub-modalities. Using rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and the patch-clamp recording technique, we characterized membrane and action potential properties of TRPM8-expressing DRG neurons at 24°C and 10°C. TRPM8-expressing neurons could be classified into TTX-sensitive (TTXs/TRPM8) and TTX-resistant (TTXr/TRPM8) subtypes based on the sensitivity to tetrodotoxin (TTX) block of their action potentials. These two subtypes of cold-sensing cells displayed different membrane and action potential properties. Voltage-activated inward Na+ currents were highly susceptible to cooling temperature and abolished by ~95% at 10°C in TTXs/TRPM8 DRG neurons, but remained substantially large at 10°C in TTXr/TRPM8 cells. In both TTXs/TRPM8 and TTXr/TRPM8 cells, voltage-activated outward K+ currents were substantially inhibited at 10°C, and the cooling-sensitive outward currents resembled A-type K+ currents. TTXs/TRPM8 neurons and TTXr/TRPM8 neurons were shown to fire action potentials at innocuous and noxious cold temperatures respectively, demonstrating sensory discrimination between innocuous and noxious cold by the two subpopulations of cold-sensing DRG neurons. The effects of cooling temperatures on voltage-gated Na+ channels and A-type K+ currents are likely to be contributing factors to sensory discrimination of cold by TTXs/TRPM8 and TTXr/TRPM8 afferent neurons.

Concepts: Neuron, Action potential, Ion channel, Temperature, Membrane potential, Potassium channel, Cold, Tetrodotoxin


During 2010-11, a La Niña condition prevailed in the tropical Pacific. An intermediate coupled model (ICM) is used to demonstrate a real-time forecast of sea surface temperature (SST) evolution during the event. One of the ICM’s unique features is an empirical parameterization of the temperature of subsurface water entrained into the mixed layer (T(e)). This model provided a good prediction, particularly of the “double dip” evolution of SST in 2011 that followed the La Niña event peak in October 2010. Thermocline feedback, explicitly represented by the relationship between T(e) and sea level in the ICM, is a crucial factor affecting the second cooling in 2011. Large negative T(e) anomalies were observed to persist in the central equatorial domain during 2010-11, inducing a cold SST anomaly to the east during July-August 2011 and leading to the development of a La Niña condition thereafter.

Concepts: Scientific method, Oceanography, Temperature, Aquatic ecology, Cold, Sea surface temperature, Gauge theory, Mixed anomaly


Vaccine exposure to temperatures below recommended ranges in the cold chain may decrease vaccine potency of freeze-sensitive vaccines leading to a loss of vaccine investments and potentially places children at risk of contracting vaccine preventable illnesses. This literature review is an update to one previously published in 2007 (Matthias et al., 2007), analyzing the prevalence of vaccine exposure to temperatures below recommendations throughout various segments of the cold chain. Overall, 45 studies included in this review assess temperature monitoring, of which 29 specifically assess ‘too cold’ temperatures. The storage segments alone were evaluated in 41 articles, 15 articles examined the transport segment and 4 studied outreach sessions. The sample size of the studies varied, ranging from one to 103 shipments and from three to 440 storage units. Among reviewed articles, the percentage of vaccine exposure to temperatures below recommended ranges during storage was 33% in wealthier countries and 37.1% in lower income countries. Vaccine exposure to temperatures below recommended ranges occurred during shipments in 38% of studies from higher income countries and 19.3% in lower income countries. This review highlights continuing issues of vaccine exposure to temperatures below recommended ranges during various segments of the cold chain. Studies monitoring the number of events vaccines are exposed to ‘too cold’ temperatures as well as the duration of these events are needed. Many reviewed studies emphasize the lack of knowledge of health workers regarding freeze damage of vaccines and how this has an effect on temperature monitoring. It is important to address this issue by educating vaccinators and cold chain staff to improve temperature maintenance and supply chain management, which will facilitate the distribution of potent vaccines to children.

Concepts: Vaccine, Temperature, Influenza, Segment, Cold, Logistics, Supply chain management, Supply chain


Primordial follicles dictate a female’s reproductive lifespan and therefore are central to fertility preservation for both endangered species as well as for individuals with fertility threatening conditions. Ovarian tissue containing primordial follicles can be cryopreserved and later thawed and transplanted back into individuals to restore both endocrine function and fertility. Importantly, increasing numbers of human live births have been reported following ovarian tissue cryopreservation and transplantation. A current limitation of this technology is patient access to sites that are approved or equipped to process and cryopreserve ovarian tissue - especially in larger countries or low resource settings. Here we review empirical evidence from both animal models and human studies that suggest that ovarian tissue can be transported at cold temperatures for several hours while still maintaining the integrity and reproductive potential of the primordial follicles within the tissue. In fact, several human live births have been reported in European countries using tissue that was transported at cold temperatures for up to 20 hours prior to cryopreservation and transplantation. Ovarian tissue transport, if implemented widely in clinical practice, could therefore expand both patient and provider access to emerging fertility preservation options.

Concepts: Human, Temperature, Reproductive system, Endocrine system, Cold, Cryobiology, Cryopreservation, Ex-situ conservation


Ectotherms in northern latitudes are seasonally exposed to cold temperatures. To improve survival under cold stress, they use diverse mechanisms to increase temperature resistance and prevent tissue damage. The accumulation of anti-freeze proteins that improve cold hardiness occurs in diverse species including plants, arthropods, fish, and amphibians. We previously identified an Ixodes scapularis anti-freeze glycoprotein, named IAFGP, and demonstrated its cold protective function in the natural tick host and in a transgenic Drosophila model. Here we show, in a transgenic mouse model expressing an anti-freeze glycoprotein, that IAFGP protects mammalian cells and mice from cold shock and frostbite respectively. Transgenic skin samples showed reduced cell death upon cold storage ex vivo and transgenic mice demonstrated increased resistance to frostbite injury in vivo. IAFGP actively protects mammalian tissue from freezing, suggesting its application for the prevention of frostbite, and other diseases associated with cold exposure.

Concepts: Gene expression, Molecular biology, Horizontal gene transfer, Temperature, Protection, Ixodes scapularis, Genetically modified organism, Cold


Many primary sensory neurons are polymodal, responding to multiple stimulus modalities (chemical, thermal, or mechanical), yet each modality is recognized differently. Although polymodality implies that stimulus encoding occurs in higher centers, such as the spinal cord or brain, recent sensory neuron ablation studies find that behavioral responses to different modalities require distinct subpopulations, suggesting the existence of modality-specific labeled lines at the level of the sensory afferent. Here we provide evidence that neurons expressing TRPM8, a cold- and menthol-gated channel required for normal cold responses in mammals, represents a labeled line solely for cold sensation. We examined the behavioral significance of conditionally ablating TRPM8-expressing neurons in adult mice, finding that, like animals lacking TRPM8 channels (Trpm8(-/-)), animals depleted of TRPM8 neurons (“ablated”) are insensitive to cool to painfully cold temperatures. Ablated animals showed little aversion to noxious cold and did not distinguish between cold and a preferred warm temperature, a phenotype more profound than that of Trpm8(-/-) mice which exhibit only partial cold-avoidance and -preference behaviors. In addition to acute responses, cold pain associated with inflammation and nerve injury was significantly attenuated in ablated and Trpm8(-/-) mice. Moreover, cooling-induced analgesia after nerve injury was abolished in both genotypes. Last, heat, mechanical, and proprioceptive behaviors were normal in ablated mice, demonstrating that TRPM8 neurons are dispensable for other somatosensory modalities. Together, these data show that, although some limited cold sensitivity remains in Trpm8(-/-) mice, TRPM8 neurons are required for the breadth of behavioral responses evoked by cold temperatures.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Temperature, Sensory system, Proprioception, Cold, Modality, Sensory neuron


Light and temperature are two environmental factors that deeply affect bud outgrowth. However, little is known about their impact on the bud burst gradient along a stem and their interactions with the molecular mechanisms of bud burst control. We investigated this question in two acrotonic rose cultivars. We demonstrated that the darkening of distal buds or exposure to cold (5°C) prior to transfer to mild temperatures (20°C) both repress acrotony, allowing the burst of quiescent medial and proximal buds. We sequenced the strigolactone pathway MAX-homologous genes in rose and studied their expression in buds and internodes along the stem. Only expressions of RwMAX1, RwMAX2 and RwMAX4 were detected. Darkening of the distal part of the shoot triggered a strong increase of RwMAX2 expression in darkened buds and bark-phloem samples, whereas it suppressed the acropetal gradient of expression of RwMAX1 observed in stems fully exposed to light. Cold treatment induced an acropetal gradient of expression of RwMAX1 in internodes and of RwMAX2 in buds along the stem. Our results suggest that the bud burst gradient along the stem cannot be explained by a gradient of expression of RwMAX genes but rather by their local level of expression at each individual position.

Concepts: Gene expression, Molecular biology, Bud, Temperature, Plant stem, Cold, Shoot, The Stems