Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"superpowers" identified in Tardigrades

     Tardigrades are little microscopic chubby bodied organisms more commonly
known as water bears. These little bears are special because they are known to be able to survive in any extreme climate such as high temperatures, low temperatures, radiation and the vacuum of space. As tardigrades are exposed to extreme conditions they get rid of all the water in their bodies and retract their limbs to become what looks like a ball; this state is known as tun. They only resurrect once these harsh conditions have passed. Researchers were able to identify genes that were active during the tun state. These genes were expressing a tardigrade specific intrinsically disordered protein or TDP that contributed to what seemed like their superpowers of survival.  TDP creates what is like glass structures to help preserve their cells in desperate times. 
     This is an amazing discovery because now that we have identified the gene and protein associated we can apply this knowledge to so many fields of science. As in the article, this discovery could help to find new ways of preserving crops in a drought or preserving perishable medications. 

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