, Volume 558, Issue 1, pp 23–30 | Cite as

Dynamics of Long-term Anhydrobiotic Survival of Lichen-dwelling Tardigrades

  • Lorena Rebecchi
  • Roberto Guidetti
  • Simona Borsari
  • Tiziana Altiero
  • Roberto Bertolani


It is not rare to find in references that anhydrobiotic tardigrades can survive for more than a century. However, a closer look at the empirical evidence provides very little support that tardigrades are capable of surviving dried for such a long time. In order to resolve this discrepancy, we carried out a study to evaluate the long-term survival of naturally dried tardigrades. A large fragment of dry lichen (Xanthoria parietina) was collected in the field two days after a rainy day in 1999. The dry lichen was stored inside a paper bag in the laboratory at room temperature and humidity and under atmospheric oxygen exposure. Replicates of the dry lichen were re-hydrated after various time periods of storage, with all tardigrades extracted and the survivors enumerated. Five species of tardigrades were found, but two of them only occasionally. Ramazzottius oberhaeuseri, Echiniscus testudo and Echiniscus trisetosus were sufficiently represented for statistical analysis. At the beginning of the experiment 91.1% of R. oberhaeuseri and 71.7% of Echiniscus spp. were alive. R. oberhaeuseri survived up to 1604 days, while Echiniscus spp. lived up to 1085 days. Recovery after four years of anhydrobiosis has to be considered a very good long-term survival, which is important from an ecological and evolutionary point of view.


cryptobiosis anhydrobiosis Ramazzottius oberhaeuseri Echiniscus Tardigrada 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lorena Rebecchi
    • 1
  • Roberto Guidetti
    • 1
  • Simona Borsari
    • 1
  • Tiziana Altiero
    • 1
  • Roberto Bertolani
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal BiologyUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly

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