Antarctic Tardigrades Revived After Being Frozen for Over 30 Years

Posted on February 16, 2016

Revived frozen tardigrade Acutuncus antarcticus

Antarctic tardigrades have been revived after being frozen over 30 years. The amazing microscopic creatures have the ability to temporarily shut down their metabolic activities. They can survive desiccation and freezing.

The frozen tardigrades were retrieved from a frozen moss sample collected in Antarctica in November 1983. On May 2014 researchers from the National Institute of Polar Research in Japan defrosted the sample and soaked it in water. Two tardigrades and one egg were collected from the sample and reared on agar plates with algae for food. One of the revived tardigrades and the juvenile that hatched from the revived egg went on to reproduce successfully. However, the second tardigrade did not survive.

Megumu Tsujimto, the lead researcher at National Institute of Polar Research, says in a statement, "Our team now aims at unraveling the mechanisms underlying the long-term survival of cryptobiotic organisms by studying damage to tardigrades' DNA and their ability to repair it."

The recovery process for one of the revived tardigrades was slow. It slightly moved its fourth pair of legs on the first day after rehydration. It took 2 weeks for it to crawl around and eat. It eventually laid 19 eggs. 14 of these eggs hatched successfully. The second revived tardigrade also moved slightly its fourth pair of legs on the first day after rehydration. However, it did not recover successfully and died 20 days after rehydration. The juvenile that hatched from the revived egg ate grew up and reproduced successfully without any obvious abnormality observed. The tardigrades in the study belong to the Acutuncus antarcticus species.

Take a look:

A research paper on the study was published here in the journal, Cryobiology.

Photo: Tsujimoto et al. 2016 Cryobiology (photo by Megumu Tsujimoto (NIPR))

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