Cosa rende questa creatura quasi invincibile? I biologi hanno acquisito una nuova visione

I tardigradi, noti anche come orsi d’acqua, si sono evoluti più di 500 milioni di anni fa.

I ricercatori stanno migliorando la loro comprensione della resilienza dei tardigradi.

ricercatori dentro Università del Wyoming Ho imparato di più sui processi biologici che consentono a minuscoli organismi noti come tardigradi di resistere per anni a condizioni estreme, come la completa essiccazione in animazione sospesa.

Thomas Boothby, assistente professore di biologia molecolare, e colleghi hanno scoperto come il trealosio, uno zucchero, interagisce con le proteine ​​per consentire ai tardigradi di sopravvivere in assenza di acqua. I loro risultati sono stati recentemente pubblicati sulla rivista Biologia della comunicazione.

I tardigradi, spesso noti come orsi d’acqua, sono lunghi meno di mezzo millimetro e possono tollerare completamente l’essiccazione e il congelamento fino a poco più di[{” attribute=””>absolute zero (approximately minus 458 degrees Fahrenheit, when all molecular motion ceases), heated to more than 300 degrees Fahrenheit, irradiated several thousand times beyond what a person can withstand, and even survive the vacuum of outer space.

Tardigrades’ ability to survive being dried out has perplexed scientists since it seems to vary from that of a number of other species that can enter suspended animation. Previously, scientists believed tardigrades did not produce trehalose to survive drying out, but Boothby and his colleagues discovered that they do, although at lower levels than other organisms.

The researchers also found that, in tardigrades, trehalose works synergistically with another tardigrade-specific protein called CAHS D.

Ultimately, Boothby and other researchers hope that their discoveries can be applied to help solve societal and global health issues — in this case, water scarcity. Their work might lead to better ways of stabilizing pharmaceuticals and generating engineered crops that can cope with harsh environments.

“A long-term goal of this field is to understand better how to confer the adaptation abilities of tardigrades to organisms that do not naturally survive drying,” Boothby says. “This study and its findings provide a compelling argument that to do so may require the combination of different, synergistic protectants.”

Reference: “Trehalose and tardigrade CAHS proteins work synergistically to promote desiccation tolerance” by Kenny Nguyen, Shraddha KC, Tyler Gonzalez, Hugo Tapia, and Thomas C. Boothby, 1 October 2022, Communications Biology.
DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-04015-2

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the National Institutes of Health. 

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