Scientists find tardigrade with a glowing blue protective shield

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Researchers in India have discovered a species of tardigrade that absorbs UV radiation and emits blue light.

Writing in the journal Biology Letters, scientists at the Indian Institute of Science describe how they discovered a new species of tardigrade on a moss-covered concrete wall at the institute.

The scientists found that when they exposed this species, called Paramacrobiotus BLR strain, and another species, H exemplaris, to 15 minutes of germicidal levels of UV exposure, Paramacrobiotus survived. H exemplaris did not. When treated with a dose four times as strong, 60 percent went on to live for 30 more days.

The scientists found that the reddish brown tardigrade used a protective fluorescent shield that absorbs the damaging ultraviolet radiation and emits it back out as harmless blue light.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Depiction of tardigrade locomotion
2. Depiction of tardigrade cryptobiosis
3. Paramacrobiotus found in moss growing on concrete wall
4. Paramacrobiotus and H exemplaris subjected to germicidal levels of UV light
5. Paramacrobiotus absorbs UV radiation and emits blue light
6. Half of H exemplaris covered in extract from Paramacrobiotus survive lethal doses of UV light

VOICEOVER (in English):

"Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are among the most resilient animals in the world, and are considered by many to be the cutest invertebrates. They are nearly translucent and average about half a millimeter in length. They lumber around on eight stubby legs located under their bodies."

"Studies show they can use a unique form of hibernation to cope with temperatures from as cold as absolute zero to above boiling, live at pressures six times greater than those at the bottom of the deepest ocean, and withstand dehydration for a decade. They can survive extreme radiation and live in space."

"Now, researchers in India have found that at least one species of tardigrade has another trick up its sleeve. Writing in the journal Biology Letters, scientists at the Indian Institute of Science describe how they discovered a new species of tardigrade on a moss-covered concrete wall at the institute."

"The scientists found that when they exposed this species, called Paramacrobiotus BLR strain, and another species, H exemplaris, to 15 minutes of germicidal levels of UV exposure, Paramacrobiotus survived. H exemplaris did not. When treated with a dose four times as strong, 60 percent went on to live for 30 more days."

"In fact, the reddish brown species glowed bright blue. The scientists found that it did this by using a protective fluorescent shield that absorbs the damaging ultraviolet radiation and emits it back out as harmless blue light."

"The researchers then created an extract from the new species and covered and covered the UV-sensitive tardigrades, H exemplaris, with the fluorescent substance. This gave them a level of protection from UV radiation, with around half the H exemplaris tardigrades still alive after a few days of exposure to a dose that should have been lethal."

SOURCES: Biology Letters, American Scientist, National Geographic
https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2020.0391
https://www.americanscientist.org/article/tardigrades
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/t/tardigrades-water-bears/