According to the scientific evidence existing to date, bdelloid rotifers, multicellular animals the size microscopic, they were capable of living up to 10 years when frozen. Also, that their resistance enables them to survive starvation or lack of oxygen.
Now, thanks to the work of an international team of scientists, a new study published in the journal Current Biology shows that these beings are capable of persisting in freezing for at least 24,000 years in the siberian permafrost.
The bottom line is that a multicellular organism can be frozen and stored as such for thousands of years and then come back to life.
Stas Malavin (IPCBPSS RAS)
“Our report is the most robust evidence to date that multicellular animals could withstand tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, a state where the metabolism stops almost completely “, says Stas Malavin, of the Institute of Physical-Chemical and Biological Problems, dependent on the Russian Academy of Sciences and based in Púshchino.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers obtained a sample of permafrost from a drilling rig in several remote Arctic locations. After isolating the rotifers, they dated with radiocarbon Its age. When thawed in the laboratory, the animal could reproduce through a clonal process known as parthenogenesis. They used this technique on dozens of rotifers, the scientists reported.
A science fiction find
According to the results obtained, these beings are capable of resisting the formation of ice crystals What happens when freezing is slow. In addition, the data suggests that they have some kind of mechanism that protects your cells and organs at extremely low temperatures.
“The bottom line is that a multicellular organism can be frozen and stored as such for thousands of years and then come back to life, a dream of many fiction writers,” explains Malavin.
To date, the ability to regenerate after thousands of years frozen has only been observed in mosses, some plants, and a 30,000-year-old nematode worm.
To date, the ability to regenerate after thousands of years had only been observed in mosses, some floors and a 30,000-year-old nematode worm. In this way, the team adds rotifers to the list, as they can remain in a state of suspended animation beneath the frozen landscape, seemingly indefinitely.
“Of course, the more complex the organism, the more difficult it is to keep it alive frozen and, for mammals, it is currently not possible. However, going from a unicellular organism to an organism with intestine and brain, although microscopic, is a great step forward ”, he adds.
On this possibility for more complex beings, scientists are still not clear what it takes to survive in ice and if there would be much difference between conserving the body for a few years or thousands. Even so, his intention is to continue studying samples from the Arctic in search of other organisms capable of long-term cryptobiosis.
Ultimately, they want to learn more about the biological mechanisms that allow rotifers to survive. The hope, they explain, is that the knowledge of these small animals offers clues on how to better cryopreserve the cells, tissues and organs of other animals, including humans.
Shmakova, Lyubov, et al. “A Living Bdelloid Rotifer Recovered from 20,000 Year Old Arctic Permafrost.” Current Biology
Rights: Creative Commons.