“Tardigrades can be found all over the world from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from high mountains to deserts, in urban areas and backyard gardens,” he explained.
“In terrestrial environments, they always require at least a film of water surrounding their bodies to perform activities necessary for life.”
But if these conditions change, tardigrades are capable of entering an extreme form of resting called cryptobiosis.
In this state, they are capable of withstanding freezing, a process called cryobiosis, and desiccation, a process called anhydrobiosis.
“This capability [to withstand desiccation] involves a complex array of factors working at molecular, physiological and structural levels,” Professor Guidetti told BBC News.
“The physiology and biochemistry of anhydrobiosis is bound to a complex system that involves many different molecular components working together as bioprotectants.”
Sugars and heat stress proteins, which are expressed when cells become stressed, act as “molecular chaperones” protecting important molecules within the cell.
The disaccharide sugar called trehalose plays a role in the protection of cells and biomolecules from dehydration by replacing water that is normally bonded to hydrogen.
During dehydration, loss of water increases the ionic concentration leading to the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which damage important biomolecules including DNA.
To counter this attack, organisms produce antioxidants that can mop up ROS minimising cell damage.
The regulation of antioxidant metabolism represents a crucial strategy to avoid damage during dehydration.
“Tardigrades can persist for months, or even for years, in the anhydrobiotic state. When in the desiccated state, tardigrades show a high resistance to physical and chemical extremes,” explains Professor Guidetti.
“For example, very low and high temperatures, exposure to high pressure or vacuum, as well as contact with organic solvents and ionising radiation.”
Exposure to the conditions found in space induces rapid changes in living systems.
Reports that the Large Hadron Collider had detected the first possible signs of the elusive Higgs boson particle were “wrong”, experts have said.
Last month, an internal memo outlining a possible signal from the Higgs picked up at the LHC was leaked on to the web.
But cross-checks of the data collected by the Atlas experiment have since found no signal.
The details were revealed during a talk by senior officials at the Royal Society in London.
The Higgs boson is of huge importance to the widely accepted theory of physics, known as the Standard Model.
El papa Benedicto XVI se conectará vía satélite con los tripulantes de la Estación Espacial Internacional (EEI) el próximo sábado, 21 de mayo, con motivo de la última misión del transbordador Endeavour, informó hoy el portavoz vaticano, Federico Lombardi.
“Canciones grabadas en mp3, en dos versiones: cantada e instrumental, acompañadas por la letra y acordes correspondientes para aprender a interpretarla en guitarra. Interpretadas por Marcela Palacios (guitarra y voz) y Alejandro Fatur (flauta traversa e ingeniería de grabación)…” Click!