Monday, March 31, 2008

Rotifers To Radiation: Resistance Is Possible Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
(Image: The bdelloid rotifer Philodina roseola (ca 400 microns), Credit: Harvard, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology)

Researchers have discovered an interesting organism that seems to have an ability to withstand large doses of radiation that would normally kill most plants and animals.

(Astrobiology Magazine) "Bdelloid rotifers are far more resistant to ionizing radiation than any of the hundreds of other animal species for which radiation resistance has been examined," says Meselson, Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "They are able to recover and resume normal reproduction after receiving a dose of radiation that shatters their genomes, causing hundreds of DNA double-strand breaks which they are nevertheless able to repair." [...]

Such radiation resistance appears not to be the result of any special protection of DNA itself against breakage, the researchers say, but instead reflects bdelloid rotifers' extraordinary ability to protect their DNA-repairing machinery from radiation damage.

According to the article these little creatures were able to withstand up to five times the dosage of regular organisms, and still come out "unscathed." If scientists can figure out how to replicate their feature within various plant and animal species, we may be able to raise crop on radiation soaked worlds such as Mars and Ganymede.

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