Still living after 24000 years
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.
Wow, this is really interesting. Microbiology has always fascinated me, microbes are so unique and diverse! I wonder if the fact that they can regenerate after being frozen so long has anything to do with endospores or a similar mechanism. I can definitely see this species being used for research in DNA modification. However, that topic remains very controversial of course. It is also interesting that they can survive in outer space.
It is so fascinating that a species can tolerate such extreme conditions to live and survive in for so long. That Earth has created environments similar enough to space for them to adapt in, shows that life could travel across space under the right conditions. This feels eerily similar to some sci fi plots, finding thousand year old life that has been trapped in ice. It would be an incredible discovery if they could understand how the Bdelloids repair DNA so that we can preserve other species.
We were just talking about rotifers and tardigrades in my basic life diversity class, they are very interesting creatures. The main thing that jumped out to me about rotifers is the ability to repair their own DNA. I'm sure there is research being done right now into how we could apply this technique to the medical field to help fight things like cancer and other ailments that stem from DNA mutation. I also wonder how it survives such extreme conditions, does it have something to do with replacing lost water like the tardigrade does?
If humans can study these microorganisms we may be able to learn more about native life in other extreme climates or about life on other planets like Mars where temperatures and conditions for life are very extreme. The fact that these microbes are more complex than just single cell life also may help us discover ways to traverse through extreme climates.
Sullivan E Stack
Whenever I am arguing with someone on the importance of climate preservation, I always try to point out how undiscovered organisms have the potential to help humanity significantly. Their response is commonly something along the lines of "oh what are we going to learn from an animal/plant in the Amazon?" When I make this argument, it is no multicellular life I am usually talking about. Organisms such as these have such great potential to serve as model species so that we can understand the more basic mysteries of life.
The fact that people had the means and interests to discover underground creatures that are that small back then is truly astonishing. Moreover, the fact that these microscopic creatures can survive such harsh conditions for thousands of years is even more startling. There has to be some sort of unique trait that allows Bdelloid rotifers to be resilient to that extent. The study’s findings regarding Bdelloids reviving after thousands of years leads to other inquiries to determine if deep freezing is a method that works for other creatures as well. Furthermore, the findings generate other questions like on how they adapt with asexual reproduction, or what factor encourages their diversification if they are all in similar conditions. Nevertheless, the main focus and emphasis on identifying what biological trait makes them this resilient in order to possibly be able to benefit other creatures as well, is an extremely clever and important approach. On the other hand, other experiments like taking them to space are also great, since scientists are consequently able to evaluate unanticipated findings as well. Unfortunately, we might not live long enough to experience determining whether their strategies can benefit other species with self-preserving. Overall, it was a very interesting topic that leaves many people wondering about the very diverse and unique creatures that have and have not been discovered yet.
Sea bears might have to make way for the new coolest organism. It amazes me that some organisms like these and those one frogs can perform their own biological cryogenics, something I did not seriously think was feasible when citing my only known references which are sci-fi movies and the rumor about Walt Disney.
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