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FEBS Lett. 2003 Oct 23;553(3):387-90.

Anhydrobiosis without trehalose in bdelloid rotifers.

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  • 1Institute of Biotechnology, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, CB2 1QT Cambridge, UK.


Eukaryotes able to withstand desiccation enter a state of suspended animation known as anhydrobiosis, which is thought to require accumulation of the non-reducing disaccharides trehalose (animals, fungi) and sucrose (plants), acting as water replacement molecules and vitrifying agents. We now show that clonal populations of bdelloid rotifers Philodina roseola and Adineta vaga exhibit excellent desiccation tolerance, but that trehalose and other disaccharides are absent from carbohydrate extracts of dried animals. Furthermore, trehalose synthase genes (tps) were not found in rotifer genomes. This first observation of animal anhydrobiosis without trehalose challenges our current understanding of the phenomenon and calls for a re-evaluation of existing models.

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