Tardigrades or water-bears have long fascinated scientists. Now researchers have found a new species of those microscopic animals that are not affected by the deadly levels of ultraviolet radiation.
Often called moss piglets, tardigrades are nearly microscopic organisms with 4 pairs of limbs. A tardigrade usually can range from 0.05 millimetres to 1.2 mm long . These animals are one among the strongest and most indestructible of organisms present on the earth . These have plump bodies and scrunched-up heads and even can survive in space. Scientists believe that if an asteroid hits earth and destroys all humanity, the tardigrades would still live unharmed.
Scientists discovered a new species of tardigrades, referred to as the Paramacrobiotus BLR, when they exposed to harmful UV radiation, they remain unaffected. The researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have now suggested a possible explanation during a recent study.
They have opined that tardigrades have a biological-shielding mechanism, where the animals are absorbing the hazardous radiation and converting it into harmless deep blue light.
The team divided the Paramacrobiotus BLR specimens into 2 halves. While one half was exposed to the uv radiation, the other wasn’t . The treated sample showed a case of natural fluorescence where all of them turned blue. However, the researchers found no difference between the 2 halves in terms of the amount of egg laying , their hatchability & hatching time, suggesting the UV rays barely had any effect on them.
Noticing how this species was even more unaffected to harmful radiation than the others, the scientist from Bengaluru tried to bring this shielding-technique to other organisms. They coated the roundworm-C elegans in pigments from the skin of the tardigrades and viola! The treated worms had become more unaffected by radiation also .