Can water bears, tardigrades, bear the weight of Panspermia theory?

Amitabh Debnath
Birla Institute of Technology

“I would like to acknowledge Siddhatha Ghosh for helping me with this article.”

Envisage a phenomenal scenario, a spaceship exploded in space and only one space-explorer somehow bypassed the accident, but the spacesuit got destroyed. What fate will that explorer meet? Firstly the absence of atmospheric pressure would decimate respiratory vitals, capillaries would explode due to hemorrhage. Regardless of the endurance, ionizing radiation would rip apart the DNA in its cells. The good part is that an individual would remain oblivious in that nick of the time. But if I say, some tiny, tubby, pudgy-faced monster that can outlive the extreme domain of vacuum! These species are known as “Tardigrades”! They resemble a bear’s mouth with dagger-like teeth with eight stubby legs and fierce claws, giving them an intimidating appearance at an ab initio glance. These minuscule organisms have piqued the researchers’ interests because of their intriguing biochemical mechanisms by which they stick out in the abyss of space. The Tardigrade species also machinate various bioprotectant molecules which helps them to be coercive against the extremities.

Bioprotectants Function
 Trehalose Feasibly acts as a molecular fence around nucleic acids as well as proteins, from denaturation by dint of by interaction between trehalose hydroxyl group hydrogen atoms and supplanting the volatilizing water.
LateEmbryogenesisAbundant proteins(LEA)


Shields cell membranes and proteins hydration buffer and set apart ions, safeguards cellular framework by the way  of restoring unfolded proteins
Heat Shock Proteins(HSP) Works as molecular chaperons and participate in protein folding, and inhibiting protein aggregation.

Also have been proven that this type of proteins are cached in these organisms, nevertheless, their role during desiccation is fluid

Cytoplasmic and Secretory Abundant Heat Soluble (CAHS and SAHS)molecules Likely form a molecular shield during dehydration
 Aquaporin proteins Assigned in the role during anhydrobiosis by fine-tuning water transport and greatly modulating membrane permeability

Tardigrades in bio-mimicry, Astrobiology and space travel:
It is a galvanizing frontier in astrobiology to nosing out about the existence of life in other realms. over thousands of exoplanets in and outside our solar system comprised a very wide range of physicochemical nook have been discovered anon, among them promiscuous rock-water and water-gas combinations where traces of life not only being fished for outside Earth but are also in the way of digging out/ferreting the potential survivability of active and cryptobiotic tardigrades.

Moss piglets already have glass on their toes! They drain out around 98% of cellular sap, jacket themselves in a hatful of vitric molecules when exposed to extreme conditions, temperature ranging from 304°F to -328°F, or even the vacuum of space and float suspended form in the deathlike state through the harsh environment. This led the researchers to create new glass materials for extreme conditions.
The avant-garde analysis regarding pioneered glass-like molecules, their alignments, ability to carry a charge or emit light, chemical combinations could revolutionize the definition of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), solar cells, or pioneer on manufacturing glass, cognate with structured, or “oriented” molecules specifically designed for exoplanet colonies?

Besides opening up minds about how life could be, these puny water-dwelling critters may radiate new spectra in space exploration for extraterrestrial life. The propensity to undergo the cryptobiotic physiological state is essential not just for long-flight but also for endurance for a prolonged period in hostile surroundings. This might assist scientists to map where the tardigrades could be viable within the stellar systems or the planetary moons. Feathery bio-suit inspired from the composition of a tardigrade-like morphology that would be ideal for space exploration for an extended time in a vacuum. These tardigrades decipher resistance to combined conditions such as cosmic radiation and microgravity or low temperate and the presence of harmful chemicals. Such studies could determine the levels of survival of earth’s multicellular organisms. This is very interesting, especially in the context of searching for life on other planets and their moons. A dormant cabin may become a reality! We may learn from tardigrades to deal with many problems to withstand long interplanetary travel during the human exploration of space.

Cryonics, Resurrection from Lazarus pit! Remember sci-fi movies where scientists freeze and rejuvenate themselves from cryosleep? Explorers are getting the wind from tardigrades’ cell survival in the freezing process.

Cryonics, the freezing-temperature repertoire process of the human body, with the starry-eyed hope that might be achievable in the high-tech era. These techniques have already been tested in living tissue preservation and organ transplantation. Fighting genetic material damages with low-key (Loki!) Tardigrades scientists are very interested to understand their unique, well-rounded repair system dealing with genetic materials or DNA in intense radiation because it may facilitate to fight off cancers, various ailments, and aging one day.

Are tardigrades aliens?
Few folks assume tardigrades might be extraterrestrial beings for a plethora of ways: Their incredible ruggedness despite being so small and seemingly fragile. The scant fossil data regarding their evolution. It feels like a picture-perfect biological entity appeared out of nowhere. Asteroids with tardigrades might fall on earth, the body and other proteins degraded, but the RNA survived the environment, that RNA worked as a template for forming new RNA!!

The survival intricacy of tardigrades is neither common, well characterized nor there is enough evidence to conclude that they are extraterrestrial beings. However, some scientists believe in the Panspermia Hypothesis that life exists throughout the entire Universe and is distributed via space dust, meteors, asteroids, comets, or other interstellar vehicles. Some theorize that tardigrades traveled to Earth millions of years ago via meteorites. Traces of biotic material have been found on 4.1 billion-year-old rocks in Western Australia. They may arrive here randomly or intelligent extraterrestrial beings deposited tardigrades on Earth to spawn life? What do you say?


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