How crabs deal with the chill

Chemical (and biochemical) reaction rates can increase dramatically with even small changes in temperature, but many biological systems require rhythms with a precise ordering of events. How are these rhythms maintained in organisms that can prosper in a wide range of temperatures? In a recent study published in PLoS Biology (comment). Lamont Tang, a Neuroscience grad student, and other members of the Marder lab studied this question by looking at neurons in the pyloric network of the crab Cancer borealis. They argue from a combination of experiments and computational models that even though firing frequencies change with temperature, the phase between elements of the network is maintained by balancing opposing currents with similar temperature dependencies.

crab pyloric rhythms in hot and cold

graphic courtesy of Gabrielle Gutierrez

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