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PLoS One. 2017 Sep 8;12(9):e0183380. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0183380. eCollection 2017.

Can the tardigrade Hypsibius dujardini survive in the absence of the geomagnetic field?

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Department of Animal Taxonomy and Ecology, Faculty of Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Umultowska 89, Poznań, Poland.
Institute of Molecular Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences, M. Smoluchowskiego17, Poznań, Poland.
Department of Avian Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Umultowska 89, Poznań, Poland.


Earth's geomagnetic field has undergone critical changes in the past. Studies on the influence of the magnetic field on Earth's organisms are crucial for the understanding of evolution of life on Earth and astrobiological considerations. Numerous studies conducted both on plants and animals confirmed the significant influence of the geomagnetic field on the metabolism of living organisms. Water bears (Tardigrada), which are a mong the most resistant animals due to their cryptobiotic abilities, show significant resistance to a number of environmental stressors, but the influence of the geomagnetic field on their fitness has not been addressed before. In our studies, we used eutardigrade Hypsibius dujardini to analyse whether isolation from the geomagnetic field had an effect on mortality. We found that Hypsibius dujardini specimens demonstrated relatively high mortality during anhydrobiosis, also in control groups exposed to the normal geomagnetic field. Moreover, similar mortality was observed in anhydrobiotic specimens isolated from the geomagnetic field. However, a significant difference was noted between tardigrade survival and the moment of their isolation from the geomagnetic field. In particular, tardigrade mortality substantially increased in absence of a magnetic field during the process of entering anhydrobiosis and returning to active life. Our results suggest that these processes rely on complex metabolic processes that are critically influenced by the geomagnetic field.

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