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Keywords:

  • cryptobiosis;
  • desiccation tolerance;
  • metabolite;
  • nonreducing disaccharide;
  • tardigrade

To withstand desiccation, many invertebrates such as rotifers, nematodes and tardigrades enter a state known as anhydrobiosis, which is thought to require accumulation of compatible osmolytes, such as the non-reducing disaccharide trehalose to protect against dehydration damage. The trehalose levels of eight tardigrade species comprising Heterotardigrada and Eutardigrada were observed in five different states of hydration and dehydration. Although many species accumulate trehalose during dehydration, the data revealed significant differences between the species. Although trehalose accumulation was found in species of the order Parachela (Eutardigrada), it was not possible to detect any trehalose in the species Milnesium tardigradum and no change in the trehalose level has been observed in any species of Heterotardigrada so far investigated. These results expand our current understanding of anhydrobiosis in tardigrades and, for the first time, demonstrate the accumulation of trehalose in developing tardigrade embryos, which have been shown to have a high level of desiccation tolerance.