Russian scientists managed to revive rotiferous bdeloids after these microorganisms spent 24 years frozen in the permanent ice of the Arctic, in the region of Siberia. Those animals Multicellular cells are only seen through a microscope and are quite resistant, being able to survive not only freezing, but also drought, hunger and little oxygen.
The article reporting the scientists' research was published this Monday (7), in scientific magazine Current Biology. The bdeloid rotifers typically live in aquatic environments. The animals used in the study were extracted from a frozen soil sample, taken from the pergelisol with a drill.
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"Our report is the strongest proof to date that multicellular animals can withstand tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, a state of metabolism that is almost completely interrupted," said Stats Malavin, one of the researchers involved in the study and a member of the Soil Cryology Laboratory of the Institute of Science of Physical-Chemical and Biological Soil Problems, in Pushchino, Russia.
Researchers have previously identified single-celled creatures with the ability to "resurrect" after such a long time. There have also been reports of mosses and plants regenerating after thousands of years trapped in ice, as well as a nematode worm after 30 years.
To identify the time when bdeloid rotifers were frozen, the researchers used radiocarbon dating. Earlier evidence claimed that these animals could survive up to ten years trapped in ice. Much less than the new copies were.
After returning to life, the rotifers managed to reproduce. These animals generate descendants through parthenogenesis, a process in which the embryo develops without fertilization.
Scientists believe the animals have some mechanism to protect cells and organs from damage caused by low temperatures, as they survived the formation of ice crystals that occur during slow freezing. Now, they want to learn more about these biological mechanisms that allow rotifers to survive.
Researchers hope that microorganisms will offer clues on how to preserve cells, tissues and organs from other animals. Including humans.
“It is clear that the more complex the organism, the more difficult it is to preserve it alive, frozen and, for mammals, it is currently not possible. However, going from a unicellular organism to an organism with intestine and brain, although microscopic, is a big step forward”, added Malavin.
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