By: Collin Houston
Summary. Bdelloid rotifers are microscopic, multicellular creatures with very complex anatomies. They are able to survive in very harsh climates with excess acidity, fight off starvation, low oxygen, dehydration, and they are one of the most radiation-resistant animals. They were found in northeastern Siberia about 11 feet below the surface in permafrost that is around 14 degrees Fahrenheit. A new study showed that Bdelloid can also come back to life after being frozen for thousands of years in deep freeze, and are one of the few tiny creatures, including tardigrades, that are able to survive such unforgiving conditions. This study also shows that these micro-animals can survive very long durations in suspended animation as well. Since they are so resistant Dr. Meselson said “They’re the world’s most resistant animal to just about any form of torture,”. Bdelloid rotifers have been studied since the invention of microscopes. In 1702, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek described them as “little round animalcules” after examining some in gutter water from his house. Despite being only a dozen microns wide they have brains, guts, muscles, and reproductive systems. However, scientists are still unsure how Bdelloid rotifers are able to protect themselves from unsurvivable conditions and patch up their broken DNA. They have also been able to diversify to more than 450 species through assexual reproduction alone which is not favorable for evolution. These animals have also been sent to space to see how well they could survive in those conditions. The goal in studying and doing tests on Bdelloid rotifers is to unlock their super-resilient biological strategies in order to help preserve other animal cells, tissues, and organs on earth as well as other space which is the main reason they have been sent to outer space. According to Dr. Meselson “They’re probably the only animals we know that could do pretty well in outer space”.
Why we should care? We should care about this topic because Bdelloid rotifers could unlock the ability for humans and living things to survive harsher climates as well as preserve other species of animals for the future.
I found this article interesting because of the possibilities that the Bdelloid rotifers can unlock for all living things. Unlocking their ability to survive suspended animation could allow us to save many living things that are dying due to an illness, and bring them back when a cure is discovered. It’s also interesting how a living thing could survive the harsh living conditions that the Bdelloid rotifers have been through. Like what exactly makes this thing so resilient to conditions that for almost every living thing are unsurvivable. To think that the possibility of something that many considered to be only out of science fiction to be possible is fascinating to me, and that it can help to save many people and living things is almost unbelievable.
Science in Action.
Dr. Mathew S. Meselson is a Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University.
Dr. Meselson is a genius who has made contributions to the areas of DNA replication, repair and recombination as well as isolation of the first restriction enzyme. Most recently he has worked with Bdelloid rotifers and done research on them. He has done a lot of other work which is too long to list all of his work. However, his research in cellular biology was revolutionary. So I think that yes all of his past work with DNA and RNA are relevant to the blog post because the secret of Bdelloid rotifers hide within its DNA and cells and he has done this kind of research all of his life, and he is very respected and accomplished in this field.