Respiration Measurements of Individual Tardigrades of the Species Richtersius cf coronifer as a Function of Temperature and Salinity and Termination of Anhydrobiosis

Bjarke H Pedersen, Hans Malte, Kai Finster*, Hans Ramløv

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Numerous studies have demonstrated that tardigrades in a resting state (tun state) are very resistant to exceptional stress levels in comparison with the resistance observed in multicellular organisms in general. The types of stress include desiccation and radiation, which are also relevant in astrobiological research, and therefore, tardigrades are used as multicellular model organisms. For example, tardigrades have been investigated in the TARSE, TARDIS, RoTaRad, and TARDIKISS projects; their survival has been evaluated according to stressful conditions that prevail in low earth orbit, including the effects of cosmic radiation and microgravity. Despite this interest, the study of tardigrade biology has been severely hampered by the sparsity of appropriate quantitative techniques that inform at the single-organism level. In this study, we present results on mass-specific respiration rates as a function of termination of anhydrobiosis and variations in temperature and salinity, including Mars-analog perchlorate solutions, by using microsensor technology to measure respiration. Based on our results for Richtersius cf coronifer, we estimated the activation energy (50.8 kJ/mole O2) for its metabolism as well as Q10 for selected temperature intervals. Q10 was constant-∼1.5-between 2°C and 33°C, except for the interval 11-16°C, where Q10 was 5.5. The steady-state mass-specific respiration rate of individuals of Richtersius cf coronifer increased with increasing salinity below the lethal limit, likely representing the energy requirements of its osmoregulatory response. We report the first quantitative data of a tardigrade's metabolic dynamics during the termination of anhydrobiosis, revealing significant variation between individuals. However, we observed a general trend, that is, a high initial metabolic rate after exposure to water. Our approach would allow us to carry out quantitative physiological studies of tardigrades on board of the International Space Station, and thus significantly extend the possibility of studying the response of multicellular organisms in space. Summary statement This article reports on first measurements of mass-specific respiration rates of individual tardigrades of the species Richtersius cf coronifer during termination of anhydrobiosis as well as measurements of the impact of temperature and salinity on oxygen uptake rates.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)853-865
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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