Haemaphysalis flava, a kind of tick, was observed under the intense rays of an electron scanning microscope and survived the experience. They may have just surpassed Tardigrades as the world’s hardiest animals, which can survive the vacuum and UV radiation of space.
H. flava surpass Tardigrades by not being dehydrated to survive vacuum. They have become the first organisms to be observed in an electron scanning microscope and survive. The researchers published their findings in the journal PLoS ONE.
The ticks were discovered by Naohisa Tomosugi, of the Kanazawa Medical University, in Uchinada, Japan, and his colleagues. The ticks crawled through desiccator tubes into the electron scanning microscope.
The researchers speculate that H. flava stop breathing when exposed to the vacuum. Tomosogi and his team discovered that the electron beam did damage the ticks, but they didn’t die. This could mean that H. flava could be used as a model for biology of extreme conditions, like Mars or Titan.
After 30 minutes of exposure, the ticks were removed and placed in normal atmospheric pressure. They could still walk and survived for two days.
Reference: “Observation of Live Ticks (Haemaphysalis flava) by Scanning Electron Microscopy under High Vacuum Pressure” by Yasuhito Ishigaki, Yuka Nakamura, Yosaburo Oikawa, Yasuhiro Yano, Susumu Kuwabata, Hideaki Nakagawa, Naohisa Tomosugi and Tsutomu Takegami, 14 March 2012, PLoS ONE.
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