OCT 17, 2018 10:51 AM PDT

The Science Behind Tardigrade's Ability to Survive Dehydration

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are a type of eight-legged micro-animals that are less than half-millimeter in length.  There are over a thousand species under the same phylum, most of which are capable of surviving unthinkably harsh conditions, such as extreme heat and cold (-200 degree Celsius to the boiling point of water), extreme pressures (0 to 1,200 atmospheric pressure), dehydration and intense radiation.

To unravel the mystery of tardigrade's amazing survivability, a team of U.S. and Italian researchers looked into what happens when the micro-animal is getting dehydrated. They found that the tardigrades undergo a process called vitrification--their body turns into a glass-like solid. A family of proteins called TDPs, expressed by the tiny critter, fill up the cytoplasm as its bodily water evaporates. The TDPs can stop the cellular structure from collapsing, which allow the tardigrades to come back to life once their environmental humidity improves. 

Source: ACS Reactions via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
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