Unknown Species: Scientists revive worm frozen 46,000 years ago

Unknown Species: Scientists revive worm frozen 46,000 years ago

NEW DELHI: Frozen over 46,000 years ago in the Siberian permafrost, a previously unknown species of roundworm has been revived by a team of scientists in Germany.

The roundworm survived 40 metres below the surface of the permafrost in a dormant state known as cryptobiosis, said a report by CNN citing Teymuras Kurzchalia, professor emeritus at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden and one of the scientists involved in the research, as per CNN.
Organisms in a cryptobiotic state can endure complete absence of water or oxygen and withstand high temperatures, as well as freezing or extremely salty conditions.

They remain in a state “between death and life,” in which their metabolic rates decrease to an undetectable level.
“One can halt life and then start it from the beginning. This a major finding,” Kurzchalia said, adding that organisms previously revived from this state had survived for decades rather than millennia.
Five years ago, scientists from the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science in Russia found two roundworm species in the Siberian permafrost. One of the researchers, Anastasia Shatilovich, revived two of the worms at the institute by simply rehydrating them with water, before taking around 100 worms to labs in Germany for further analysis, according to CNN.
Scientists used radiocarbon analysis of the plant material in the sample to establish that the deposits had not been thawed since between 45,839 and 47,769 years ago.
Genetic analysis conducted by scientists in Dresden and Cologne showed the worms belonged to a novel species, which researchers named Panagrolaimus kolymaenis.
Researchers also found that P. kolymaenis shared with C. elegans — another organism often used in scientific studies — “a molecular toolkit” that could allow it to survive cryptobiosis. Both organisms produce a sugar called trehalose, possibly enabling them to endure freezing and dehydration.
(With inputs from agencies)

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