Autophagy in Antarctica: Combating dehydration stress in the world's southernmost insect

Nicholas M. Teets, David L. Denlinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The midge Belgica antarctica is the only insect endemic to Antarctica and has the southernmost range of any insect. In its natural environment, B. antarctica frequently faces desiccating conditions, as environmental water is frozen for up to 9 months annually. The molecular mechanisms by which B. antarctica tolerates extreme dehydration are poorly understood, but recent work from our laboratory reports genomewide expression changes in response to extreme dehydration (̃40% water loss), the first genome-scale transcriptome reported for an Antarctic animal. Among transcripts differentially regulated during dehydration, there is coordinated upregulation of numerous genes involved in autophagy, including genes responsible for autophagosome synthesis and autophagy-associated transcription factors. Also, several genes and pathways that interact with and regulate autophagy, e.g., sestrins and proteasomal genes, are concurrently upregulated. This suggests that autophagy and related processes are key elements regulating stress tolerance in this extreme environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-631
Number of pages3
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by National Science Foundation OPP-ANT-0837613 and ANT-083559.


  • Antarctic midge
  • Autophagy
  • Dehydration
  • Environmental stress
  • RNA-seq
  • Sestrin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Autophagy in Antarctica: Combating dehydration stress in the world's southernmost insect'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this