Hopefully you were following the news over the last month and saw the important development that is changing all of our lives. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the recent paper in Biology Letters (https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2020.0391) showing that tardigrades (aka “water bears”, aka “moss piglets”) emit fluorescent light. Yes, as if tardigrades weren’t amazing enough, we now know that they glow blue.

fluorescent tardigrade

For those not familiar with these incredible creatures, a video primer below.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


6 Thoughts on "Important Tardigrade Update"

You bet I saw the article. Glad to see that TSK is monitoring important stuff – some of your recent posts were on such minor topics (voting in some election or other; something about a pandemic) that I thought maybe you’d taken your eye off the ball.

Ah, but you skipped the most amazing part — the reason for the fluorescence, which occurs only when they are exposed to UV light. The authors speculate that the specific species of tardigrade they studied, which occurs in UV-rich environments, have evolved “a protective fluorescent shield that absorbs harmful UV radiation and emits harmless blue light.”

With tricks like these up their (numerous and short) sleeves, tardigrades may indeed take over the world. (Cf. https://twitter.com/mrwaterbear ).

Many thanks for posting this. I remember seeing these critters through my hobby microscope when I was a kid, in samples taken from a nearby creek.

Before becoming a medical librarian, I was a geneticist and for a little while in the early 90’s flirted with the idea of trying to clone the genes for the various amazing properties they have.

And not one mention of their importance to Star Trek Discovery?

I’m sorry to say that I lost track of Star Trek after Voyager. Though “Lower Decks” sounds intriguing.

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