Published: Thu, March 01, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

New Tardigrade Species Found In Japan

New Tardigrade Species Found In Japan

The researchers studied their physical characteristics and discovered unique features that make the species different from the rest of tardigrades.

For this reason, a small group of tardigrade researchers led by Daniel Stec of the Jagiellonian University in Poland, recently chose to have a close look at a moss-covered bit of concrete found lying in a vehicle park in the Otsuka-machi district of Tsuruoka City in Japan.

Called M. shonaicus after the Shōnai region of Japan where it was found, the latest tardigrade was discovered on a clunk of moss growing in a concrete vehicle park, outside the flat of university researcher Kazuharu Arakawa, in Tsuruoka City.

Water bears, more formally known as tardigrades, are among the most indestructible animals on the planet.

The new species of tardigrade. This new tardigrade species has a solid egg surface, placing it in the persimilis subgroup within the hufelandi complex.

The scientists uncovered 10 individuals at the parking lot and took them back to the lab. They can even live through starvation for up to 30 years.

Additionally, study author Daniel Stec told Plos One: 'The most basic reason [tardigrades are important] is human curiosity, and once you fall in love with tardigrades you only want to know more, especially since there is still so much to discover about them. We later found out that they can also feed on rotifers. "But Macrobiotus species, such as [the new species] M. shonaicus, often have two sexes, and require mating", said co-author of the study Dr. Kazuharu Arakawa from Keio University, Japan. Then phase contrast light microscopy (PCM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEP) were used to examine the DNA sequences of these tardigrades.

The surface of the tardigrade's egg. This new species is placed in the same clade as species from Kenya (Macrobiotus paulinae), Ecuador (Macrobiotus polypiformis), Scotland (Macrobiotus scoticus), and Argentina (Macrobiotus kristenseni). Research on the species known as tardigrades began in 1834.

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The new species of tardigrade-a rare video of a tardigrade defecating.

When it comes to survival, few creatures are as sturdy as the tardigrade.

Tardigrades are short, plump, eight-legged micro-animals measuring around 0.02 inches long. The microscopic dried tardigrades are blown like specks of dust in the wind, so tardigrades can travel widely in this form.

Now the species of tardigrades in Japan have increased from 167 to 168.

Titled "An integrative description of Macrobiotus shonaicus sp. November (Tardigrada: Macrobiotidae) from Japan with notes on its phylogenetic position within the hufelandi group", the open-access paper was printed online Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE. It isn't not known for sure, but hypothesized that they have a wider distribution around the Shonai area in Japan after which they are named.

Scientists also discovered that the new species can live on algae, making it even more unusual, since most other tardigrade species are carnivores, LiveScience reported.

Journal reference: Citation: Stec D, Arakawa K, Michalczyk?

One of these pairs proliferated in their dish, with subsequent microscopic and genomic analysis revealing a new species of tardigrade - Macrobiotus shonaicus - belonging to the group Macrobiotus hufelandi.

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