Russian Scientists Revived “Bdelloid Rotifer” after 24,000 Years in Arctic

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Two microorganisms moving around

Russian scientists revived Bdelloid rotifer, a microscopic organism, after slumbering in the Arctic permafrost for 24,000 years. The Bdelloids are known for live in extreme weather conditions.

While studying in the laboratory, scientists found some microorganisms that became active, and we’re able to reproduce in a process called pathogenesis after 24,000 years asexually. 

Bdelloid rotifer is a freshwater organism found all over the world. In earlier studies, the ability of rotifer to survive in a frozen state for about a decade was already known to scientists. 

Stas Malvin, a researcher at the Soil Cryology Laboratory, said they are eager to study the mechanism involved in cryptobiosis of rotifer. The same can be applied in studying cryptobiosis in human beings. 

Bdelloids were extracted from a site near the Alazeya River in northeastern Siberia. “The cores were extracted from a site around 50 meters from the riverbank,” said Stas Malvavin. 

Scientists after analyzing the genes of Bdelloids genus Adineta, which still has extant lineages.

Malvin said, “The next step in research would be to investigate the physiological/biochemical mechanisms that allow these organisms to survive during cryptobiosis, especially such an extremely long one,” he said. “Those mechanisms may then be applied to cryopreservation of cells, tissues, and organs of human importance, and also the organisms during interplanetary voyages.”

This is an actively developing research field with much already known and much remaining to be investigated,” Malavin concluded, noting that “organisms ‘stored’ in permafrost represent a natural experiment that we can’t replicate due to its extreme duration, and thus organisms isolated alive from permafrost potentially represent the best models for cryobiology research.”

Bdelloid rotifers can enter cryptobiosis in response to different adverse events like drying or freezing the environment (and starvation and low oxygen content. Bdelloid rotifer is the toughest animal on the earth, together with tardigrades, the ‘water bears.’

In an earlier study conducted by Melvin and his colleagues, they found nematodes, a type of hardy roundworm, could be revived after at least 30,000 years in a frozen state. 

According to a study published on Monday in Current Biology, “It constitutes the longest reported case of rotifer survival in a frozen state” and “is of great interest not only for evolutionary biology but also for practical purposes of cryobiology and biotechnology.”


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