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In 1999, Jack Gilbert set off for Antarctica looking for a natural antifreeze. Out among the sea ice, the microbial ecologist, now based at Argonne National Laboratory, found a bacterial antifreeze protein (AFP) called MpIBP that was hundreds of times larger than other known AFPs. It was an enigma, he says. “For years, I’ve been telling people we don’t really know what this protein does.”
Fishing for ice
Scientists now have a handle on its function. Ido Braslavsky of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and colleagues placed Marinomonas primoryensis, which produces MpIBP, into a microfluidic flow chamber with a copper wire...