Scientists have discovered another reason to be impressed with tardigrades. Some of these microscopic, almost indestructible creatures wear a glowing “shield” that protects them from ultraviolet rays.
Tubby Tardigrades – also known as moss pigs or water bears – are known for their toughness that can withstand extreme heat, cold, and pressure, as well as the vacuum of space. They can also survive levels of radiation that would kill many other life forms.
Now scientists have found new evidence of the radiation resistance of tardigrades. Experience with tardigrades in the Paramacrobiotus The genre has shown that fluorescence protects them like a layer of sunscreen, turning harmful UV rays into harmless blue light, according to a new study.
Connected: 8 reasons we love tardigrades
Biofluorescence gives different creatures a strange glow. It is different from bioluminescence, which is the light produced by a chemical reaction between compounds in the animal’s body. For example, think of the bioluminescent glow from fireflies.
In fluorescent animals, their glow – usually red or green – is not the result of a chemical reaction. Rather, these animals fluoresce when molecules in their cells absorb light particles or photons, invisible UV rays and emit low-energy light with a longer wavelength. There are sea turtles with fluorescent shells and heads and tiny orange frogs and chameleons with fluorescent bones. Jellyfish glow with fluorescent light, as do scorpions, parrots, nematodes, and yes-tardigrades, said lead author Sandeep M. Eswarappa, assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the Indian Institute. of Sciences in Bangalore, India.
However, little is known about how most fluorescent species use their glow. For the new study, the authors asked whether the fluorescence of tardigrades could be related to the radiation tolerance of water bears.
“The two phenomena were linked”
Scientists have tested Paramacrobiotus UV resistance of tardigrades by exposing them to radiation high enough to kill most microorganisms for 15 minutes. The whole Paramacrobiotus Thirty days later, tardigrades were still alive Hypsibius exemplaris Tardigrades that were UV sensitive all died within 24 hours of radiation exposure, according to the study.
“There was no difference in survival for these two species of tardigrade unless treated with UV rays,” Eswarappa told Live Science in an email.
Paramacrobiotus Tardigrades also glowed brightly when exposed to UV light. However, when the researchers extracted fluorescent components from it Paramacrobiotus Tardigrades and applied them to both H. exemplaris and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans – It is also non-fluorescent and UV-sensitive – both species “showed a partial tolerance to UV radiation,” the researchers reported.
“It was natural to believe that the two phenomena were linked,” said Eswarappa.
Previous studies suggest that biofluorescence in some corals provides UV protection, and researchers looking for extraterrestrial life suggest that biofluorescence could help organisms evolve and survive on distant worlds orbiting dwarf stars. Red – which have a higher UV output than our sun – planets are potentially many types of luminous bodies, according to Live Science.
For the brilliant earthbound tardigrades, the fluorescence could increase their chances of survival in habitats where water bears are frequently exposed to the sun, Eswarappa said.
“Because of their UV resistance, these tardigrades can thrive in environments with a high UV index. For example in the tropics, ”he said.
The results were published online on October 13 in the journal Biology Letters.
Originally posted on Live Science.
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