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Keywords:

  • Tardigrada;
  • Rotifera;
  • Nematoda;
  • anhydrobiosis;
  • cryptobiosis

Abstract

This study represents the first systematic investigation of long-term anhydrobiotic survival in tardigrades, rotifers and nematodes inhabiting mosses and lichens. Sixty-three different samples from public and private collections, kept dry for 9–138 years, were examined. Rotifers of the genus Mniobia and the eutardigrade Ramazzottius oberhaeuseri (hatched from eggs) were found alive from one of the samples (9 years old). These observations represent the longest record for rotifers in the anhydrobiotic state. For tardigrades, our results confirm previous reports on the upper limit of anhydrobiotic survival under atmospheric oxygen conditions. This study suggests the possibility that tardigrade eggs are able to withstand longer periods in anhydrobiosis than animals. Some problems related to the evaluation of long-term anhydrobiotic survival, such as contamination and chemical treatments of samples, are reported. The possible role of the microenvironment in which the anhydrobiotic animals are kept is discussed.