Tardigrades have been surprising people with their incredible survival skills, but it wasn’t clear how they manage to stay alive in the harshest conditions. This is why researchers have decided to perform a genetic analysis on the creatures, and unveil their mystery.
- Tardigrades have amazing survival skills, and can resist being deprived of water.
- Their secret lies in some proteins specific only to their species, which maintains cell structure in any conditions.
- Learning tardigrades’ secret can have applications in many fields.
Most animals die when they don’t receive all the water they need, as their cells modify their shape and collapse. However, two species of tardigrades can resist dehydration. The two species, Ramazzottius varieornatus and Hypsibius dujardini, have been studied for the research, and have had their genomes analyzed.
The study revealed how these creatures produced some proteins specific to their species. These proteins help cells keep their shape even when there’s scarce water, so they won’t suffer any damage. However, the mechanism is not identical in the two species. H. dujardini needs 24 hours before suffering extreme desiccation to get ready to save its cells.
These differences are given by the places where they live, and the time they take until they dry completely. However, the survival mechanism they use is the same. Their genes are almost identical, but function a little bit differently.
Tardigrades might be fascinating, but are also a wonderful object of study. They can teach us a lot about survival and about how to handle extreme dehydration. By looking at them, researchers can see how to preserve the structure of a cell even when it is deprived of water.
Such a discovery can have applications in many fields. For instance, it can be of great help with vaccine transportation. At the moment, some vaccines need to be transported in extremely low temperatures, some of them being even frozen. The new technology would allow them to just be dried and preserved at normal temperatures.
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