98.6 degrees Fahrenheit ideal to keep fungi and food at bay

December 23rd, 2010 - 6:19 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 23 (ANI): Two researchers have discovered that 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) is ideal temperature to ward off fungal infection and keep food at bay.

“One of the mysteries about humans and other advanced mammals has been why they are so hot compared with other animals,” said study co-author Arturo Casadevall, professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.
“This study helps to explain why mammalian temperatures are all around 37 degrees Celsius,” he said.

The research builds upon earlier work by Casadevall showing that the number of fungal species that can thrive and therefore infect an animal declines by 6 percent for every one degrees Celsius rise in temperature.

This means that tens of thousands of fungal species infect reptiles, amphibians and other cold-blooded animals, but only a few hundred harm mammals.

Such protection against fungal infection, Casadevall has speculated, could have been crucial for the triumph of mammals following the age of dinosaurs.

In this study, Casadevall and his Aviv Bergman devised a mathematical model that analyzed the benefits gained by body temperatures that protect against fungi versus the costs (in terms of extra food consumption) required to maintain body temperatures between 30 degrees Celsius and 40 degrees Celsius.

The optimal temperature for maximizing benefits while minimizing costs was found to be 36.7 degrees Celsius, which closely approximates normal body temperature.

“This study is a good example of how mammalian evolution has been driven by both external biological factors and internal physiological constraints,” said Bergman.

The paper has appeared in the November 9 edition of mBio. (ANI)

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