Anhydrobiosis in tardigrades and its effects on longevity traits



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: ERRATUM Volume 276, Issue 3, 322, Article first published online: 20 October 2008

  • Editor: Philip Rainbow

Steffen Hengherr, Department of Zoology, Biological Institute, Universität Stuttgart, Department of Zoology, Pfaffenwaldring 57, D-70569 Stuttgart, Germany.


Living in harsh and variable environments that are prone to periodic desiccation, tardigrades exhibit remarkable tolerance against physical extremes through a state known as anhydrobiosis. To study the effect of this state on the longevity and hence the lifecycle in the taxon Tardigrada for the first time, we exposed a tardigrade species, Milnesium tardigradum, to alternating periods of drying and active feeding periods in a hydrated state. Compared with a hydrated control, the periodically dried animals showed a similar longevity, indicating that the time spent in anhydrobiosis was ignored by the internal clock. Thus, desiccation can produce a time shift in the age of tardigrades similar to the model described for rotifers that has been termed ‘Sleeping Beauty’.