The tartigrades superpowers are a trending topic all around the world. However, just when you thought nature couldn’t get any crazier, it surprises you again.
Tartigrades are already known as the most resistant animals on Earth. They received this label because of their resistance to radiation, high pressures and extreme temperatures. It is no surprise that this little animal unleashed a series of new questions on how evolution could have happened.
This week, a new research published on Nature, revealed much more about the tartigrades superpowers.
After sequencing the tartigrades genome, Takekazu Kunieda and his team of scientists identified a protein that protects DNA when submitted to radiation. This protein can only be found in tartigrades. However, Kunieda is currently studying how the same protein can be introduced in humans and protect human DNA.
“It is amazing to see that a single gene is enough to improve, in a culture of human cells, their tolerance to radiation. We think that this protein may function as a physical shield to protect human DNA from attacks”
The secret to the tartigrades superpowers is their ability to resisti to extreme dehidration. Tartigrades are able to survive with only 1% of water and then come back to life as nothing have happened. According to Kunieda, tartigrades divide their DNA in small pieces and drop their life activity to 0,01%. Once hidrated again, the DNA repairs itself and their life activity goes back to 100%.
The genome sequencing also suggests that most of tartigrades genes came from other animals through a process called “Horizontal Gene Transfer”. Here is an infographic summing up Kunieda research:
Tartigrades may not seem like an interesting object of study. However, when you ask the right question, you can find something amazing such as animals superpowers.
Feeling excited about Kunieda scientific paper? Well, make sure scientists get excited about your research too!