Monday, November 30, 2015

Yeah...going to roots...What are Tardigrades?

Today read an article which reminded me of my college days and the favorite genetics lectures.

Article: Tardigrades, already impossible to kill, also have foreign DNA

This is how Tardigrade looks:


Here is what was more important to me (excerpt from the article):

"How did tardigrades get so good at acquiring that much foreign DNA? Thomas Boothby, lead author, believes it’s related to the tardigrade’s multifaceted approach to adversity. Under dehydration stress, for example, water bears can actually dry themselves out, a process that breaks up their DNA into small pieces, much like the relatively stable form the genetic material takes during most of the cell’s growth and replication cycle. When moisture returns, they rehydrate by making their cells leaky, which admits water – but also molecules from the environment, even macromolecules like DNA. And their robust DNA repair process is fault-tolerant enough to handle such tremendous disruption. That very fault tolerance may make the tardigrade more likely to assimilate DNA molecules from different species, since the ligation enzyme easily associates DNA fragments with complementary sticky ends.
Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that the team discovered that under stressful conditions, their tardigrades could switch on and off some of that wide array of aftermarket genes – genes related, in their original hosts, to stress tolerance. It’s vaguely reminiscent of that scene from Independence Day where Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum manage to hack an alien computer with a MacBook, except this is real life and the hack actually works."