Microscopic creatures called water bears were discovered to live without water. These bear-shaped animals are known as tardigrades, being the most resilient creature on earth. They can survive radiation and freezing temperatures. What is even more surprising is that they can even survive a trip to space. They are famous for their ability to resist in parched conditions.
- Scientists discovered that tardigrades have a great ability to adapt.
- They can survive in extreme weather conditions, without water or in the presence of radiation.
- These organisms are protected by some disordered proteins when the environment is dry.
Scientists discovered that these creatures could live without water for ten years, surviving like a desiccated shell. Researchers are still wondering how water bears can resurrect when the environment they live in becomes friendlier. After conducting a new study, scientists might have revealed how water bears can come back to life. Their answer might help the pharmaceutical industry to find a new way to ship their goods.
Initially, scientists believed that Tardigrades could survive in harsh conditions by making use of a sugar known as trehalose. When present in fungi and bacteria, trehalose is bound to transform the inside of cells into a glass-like matrix which keeps proteins safe, avoiding their damage when in dry conditions. The process is known as vitrification, and it allows microscopic organisms to keep their molecules and proteins together until better weather conditions appear and the organism is rehydrated.
However, when they looked carefully, specialists revealed that trehalose was hardly present in water bears. Moreover, some species of water bears are not even able to make sugar. Thus, a team of scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill decided to investigate this issue and discover what mechanism tardigrades used to regenerate.
Thomas Boothby, a postdoctoral scientist at UNC and also the lead author of the study, has conducted the group of biochemists. They decided to start the study by drying out these microscopic organisms and then determine which genes were used to protect them in a dry environment. They found a group of proteins known as IDPs or disordered proteins.
Boothby argued that the genes which contained the disordered protein occurred when they were trying to establish which genes were activated during the drying process. Researchers also claimed that IDPs represent the odd category in the world of proteins. Usually, most types of proteins unveil a normal 3D structure. Nevertheless, disordered proteins have no specific shape.
Water bears seem to be one of the strongest creatures, having a great ability to adapt. Scientists claimed that the proteins found in tardigrades might bring benefits to humans.
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