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Researchers discover tardigrades’ superpowers identified in their DNA
Microscopic tardigrades, which are also known as “water bears,” have intrigued scientists for centuries due to their ability to survive in really extreme conditions. Now, a team of researchers claimed to have the discovered the special proteins in their DNA that give the microscopic creatures their superpowers.
Tardigrades are merely 0.002 to 0.05 inches or 0.05 to 1.2 millimeters in length. Thus, these creatures can’t be seen with the naked eye. But, they have rotund heads and four pairs of chubby legs tipped with grasping claws.
The blobby-bodied tardigrades’ hardiness can be estimated from the fact that these creatures can recover after drying out for as many as ten years or even longer.
Researchers analyzed tardigrades’ genetic activity, and results revealed that certain genes had a special type of protein, which the researchers called tardigrade-specific intrinsically disordered proteins (TDPs). They also discovered that the genes that produce TDPs remained active all the time, while in other species these genes were found to be activate just under certain conditions.
Study lead author Thomas C. Boothby, a postdoctoral fellow at University of North Carolina, said, “We think it can do this because it has so many of these proteins around already and doesn't need time to make them.”
The researchers reported their findings in the most recent edition of the journal Molecular Cell.