Specialized skills

Drying or freezing cells generally leads to massive damage of cellular membranes and proteins, which eventually results in cell death and, consequently, death of the entire organism. Surprisingly, this is not the case in tardigrades. They have the remarkable ability to circumvent such problems and are able to survive almost complete dehydration and freezing.

The aim of the project

The aim of this project is the characterisation and quantification of the molecular mechanisms of tolerance that enable tardigrades to survive in cryptobiosis. With the consortium of four academic research institutions, and one company it will be possible to gain more information about the dynamic processes in cells from a living active state to a cryptobiotic state, and vice versa.

The approach

The results will be obtained by modern approaches of
(i) genomics to identifiy expressed genes,
(ii) proteomics to identify induced proteins,
(iii) physiological investigations to validate and quantify identified genes and proteins,
(iv) bioinformatics to drawing up mathematical models to predict dynamic cellular changes between the active and cryptobiotic stages of tardigrades, and of the interdisciplinary data from the FUNCRYPTA consortium.


A better understanding of the survival mechanisms in cryptobiotic organisms will lead to the development of new methods for preserving biological materials in situ, macromolecules and cells from non-cryptobiotic organisms which would be of great benefit to tissue engineering, cell transplantation, individual medicine, cryo-preservation, other areas of biotechnology, and ex situ collection in the frame work of biodiversity research ("Convention on Biological Diversity" and the "European Biodiversity Strategy").