Wow, it’s been almost two weeks since my last post!  It’s almost spring break, and I’ve been studying like mad for midterms. I’ve been in the lab very little the past two weeks. <sad face>

Monday Anthony and I went on a little excursion to the Bosque looking for tardigrade habitats. Read his post here. It was an interesting experience. Anthony had mentioned tardigrades a few months ago. I did a Google search and found lots of interesting information about these little creatures:

Tardigrade (or water bear), the toughest creature on Earth.

  • They are found everywhere in the world, from the Himalayas to the Artic. They live in Hot Springs and Forests.
  • They can survive in extreme environments because they can pause their metabolism and enter a state of suspended animation, called cryptobiosis.When they are in this state they are in a tun.
  • They can survive without water for over 100 years while in tun.
  • They can withstand 1000 times more radiation than any other living creature known.
  • They can also survive in space (without space suites or spaceships).

All in all they are very impressive little critters.

So why were we looking for them? Well, since I’ve been here, all our research on D2O and DDW has been with tobacco and Arabidopsis seeds. We are now moving into the next phase of research, using yeast and e.coli. One day we were talking about this next phase, and Anthony mentioned that it would be cool to see what effects D2O and DDW have on other life forms. Since Tardigrades are so adaptable, we started looking into getting some for our experiments. Since they are found everywhere we decided to go on a Tardigrade hunt.

The following steps are how to find them (taken from Sarah Bordenstein’s page at Carleton College):

  1. Collect a clump of moss or lichen (dry or wet) and place in a shallow dish, such as a Petri dish.
  2. Soak in water (preferably rainwater or distilled water) for 3-24 hours.
  3. Remove and discard excess water from the dish.
  4. Shake or squeeze the moss/lichen clumps over another transparent dish to collect trapped water.
  5. Starting on a low objective lens, examine the water using a stereo microscope.
  6. Use a micropipette to transfer tardigrades to a slide, which can be observed with a higher power under a compound microscope.

Today we started step 2.

Bosque Samples in water, awaiting for Tardigrade extraction