Anhydrobiosis in tardigrades--the last decade

J Insect Physiol. 2011 May;57(5):577-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2011.03.019. Epub 2011 Apr 1.


The current state of knowledge about anhydrobiosis in tardigrades is presented. In response to adverse environmental conditions tardigrades arrest their metabolic activity and after complete dehydration enter the so-called "tun" state. In this ametabolic state they are able to tolerate exposure to various chemical and physical extremes. These micrometazoans have evolved various kinds of morphological, physiological and molecular adaptations to reduce the effects of desiccation. In this review we address behavioral adaptation, morphological features and molecules which determine the anhydrobiotic survival. The influence of the time spent in anhydrobiotic state on the lifespan and DNA and the role of the antioxidant defense system are also considered. Finally we summarize recent input from the "omics" sciences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Desiccation
  • Tardigrada / anatomy & histology
  • Tardigrada / genetics
  • Tardigrada / physiology*