DNA damage in storage cells of anhydrobiotic tardigrades

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2009 Aug;153(4):425-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2009.04.611. Epub 2009 Apr 8.


In order to recover without any apparent damage, tardigrades have evolved effective adaptations to preserve the integrity of cells and tissues in the anhydrobiotic state. Despite those adaptations and the fact that the process of biological ageing comes to a stop during anhydrobiosis, the time animals can persist in this state is limited; after exceedingly long anhydrobiotic periods tardigrades fail to recover. Using the single cell gel electrophoresis (comet assay) technique to study the effect of anhydrobiosis on the integrity of deoxyribonucleic acid, we showed that the DNA in storage cells of the tardigrade Milnesium tardigradum was well protected during transition from the active into the anhydrobiotic state. Specimens of M. tardigradum that had been desiccated for two days had only accumulated minor DNA damage (2.09 +/- 1.98% DNA in tail, compared to 0.44 +/- 0.74% DNA in tail for the negative control with active, hydrated animals). Yet the longer the anhydrobiotic phase lasted, the more damage was inflicted on the DNA. After six weeks in anhydrobiosis, 13.63 +/- 6.41% of DNA was found in the comet tail. After ten months, 23.66 +/- 7.56% of DNA was detected in the comet tail. The cause for this deterioration is unknown, but oxidative processes mediated by reactive oxygen species are a possible explanation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Comet Assay
  • DNA Damage*