The innovative aspect of FUNCRYPTA is the interdisciplinary approach with a combination of animal physiological, molecular biological, biochemical, and mathematical tools to provide novel techniques to screen tardigrades as a newly established model organism for research in the field of anhydrobiosis. There is an urgent need to pursue research in this area, particularly on the basic mechanisms involved in the regulation of metabolism, the study of the physical properties of intracellular water, and the stability of biological materials in situ
. For the first time it is possible to work with an established culture of tardigrades, allowing the use of highly sensitive state-of-the-art techniques which greatly reduce the amount of biological material required. Only a few molecular and biochemical studies of anhydrobiosis have been done so far. Information on mechanisms and dynamics of the processes are almost completely missing.
The strategy of FUNCRYPTA, therefore, is:
(i) to use a cultured tardigrade species, which will be used for all investigations as a model organism,
(ii) to link molecular, biochemical, and physiological data by bioinformatic techniques and modelling, and
(iii) to transfer the knowledge to the industrial sector.
However, to the best of the consortiums knowledge, an approach like the present one which aims to assemble all these numerous aspects at different hierarchical levels of biological organisation is a completely new and novel approach for research in the field of anhydrobiosis. The history of science reveals that well-executed basic science sometimes results in completely unpredictable outcomes that prove to be of substantial importance and value to the human condition. Tardigrades tell us something about the nature of life.