Publish at February 22 2023 Updated February 22 2023

The tardigrade: the creature with super powers

Powers that could serve human activities?

Nature holds many secrets and special species that humans are just beginning to learn about. This is the case of the tardigrade, a living species that is almost impossible to see with the naked eye since it is at most half a millimeter tall. However, scientists have taken a strong interest in these creatures with extraordinary powers. Tardigrades have been found in all environments, including deserts, the poles and even space.

The secret of this species lies in an incredible ability it possesses: cryptobiosis. Indeed those called the "water urchins" are able to withdraw water from their body when the temperature approaches an extreme (hot or cold) or in the presence of radiation. They can remain in this state for years thanks to 4 proteins they produce.

2 students in master 2 health engineering came to present their work on this little-known species and the possibilities that these proteins could bring to humans. It would be possible to inject RNA from a tardigrade cell and this could protect plants, human organs for transplantation and also to create a metabolic break in astronauts in the distant future. Obviously, we are still far from real applications since this requires years of scientific research. Nevertheless, the possibilities of this tiny being point to impressive discoveries in the coming decades.

Length: 48 minutes

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Espace Mendès France

Centre de culture scientifique, technique et industrielle en Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Maison des sciences et des techniques
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86038 Poitiers cedex

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