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Tardigrade Research Paper

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Although animals have adapted to many different environments, there is one that trumps them all: the tardigrade. Commonly called water bears and sometimes moss piglets, tardigrades are able to endure many environmental stresses, such as dehydration and extreme temperature changes (Herkewitz). They can even survive in space (Herkewitz)! This essay will prove that the tardigrade is the most resilient animal on earth and give a glimpse into the everyday life of a tardigrade.

Tardigrades have been known to survive in environments that would kill nearly any other organism. One such environment is outer space. Space combines many elements that would individually terminate the life of almost anything; however, an experiment conducted by a team of
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When a tardigrade becomes a tun, it loses 97-99% of its body’s water, and its metabolism slows to 0.01% of its ordinary speed (Herkewitz). Some of its cell contents are replaced with trehalose molecules, a type of sugar (Herkewitz). They also coat themselves with large amounts of glassy molecules produced by proteins unique to tardigrades (Crew). An abnormal amount of antioxidants are produced to defend against reactive oxygen species, dangerous molecules that irradiate particles containing oxygen (Herkewitz). There are four key types of cryptobiosis that tardigrades undergo: anoxybiosis, cryobiosis, anhydrobiosis, and osmobiosis (“Tardigrades!”). The most common form is anhydrobiosis, the type of cryptobiosis tardigrades go through when their body does not have enough water to function as it usually does (“Tardigrades!”). This allows tardigrades to survive long droughts. Of course, droughts are not the only problem water bears face. Tardigrades have been subjected to many tests by scientists, and they took different forms depending on the test. Tardigrades will enter a stage called cryobiosis that lets them survive extreme temperatures (“Tardigrades!”). When there is a lack of oxygen that threatens a tardigrade, it will go into anoxybiosis (“Tardigrades!”). Thanks to this, tardigrades do not need oxygen to survive in outer space. The final cryptobiotic form tardigrades can enter is called osmobiosis (“Tardigrades!”). Osmobiosis is the least studied of all cryptobiotic forms and occurs when there is an increase in the concentration of a solute in the water a tardigrade lives in (“Tardigrades!”). One example of osmobiosis would be if salt was poured into the water in which a tardigrade was
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