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Submission + - Why Can't Fish Swim Deeper than 8000 Meters? Their Brains Explode

sciencehabit writes: Ocean-going fish can’t live any deeper than 8200 meters, according to a new study. A team of biologists say the threshold is set by two competing effects of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a chemical in fish cells that prevents proteins from collapsing under high pressure. While fish should need more and more TMAO to survive ever greater depths, higher concentrations of the compound also draw in more and more seawater through osmosis, the process by which cells regulate their water content. In the deepest waters, high TMAO levels reverse osmosis pressure, swelling brain cells to the point that they stop working and, in principle, bursting red blood cells open.

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