By Madeleine Muzdakis on June 9, 2021
This microorganism was frozen in Siberian permafrost for 24,000 years, but scientists were able to bring it back to life! What does this mean for the rest of us?
From Han Solo in Star Wars to wealthy people actually freezing themselves in hopes of resurrection, the fantasy of reviving frozen, preserved specimens is a long-held dream. Modern science has made this a reality for single-celled organisms that have been frozen. A recent paper in Current Biology extends this success to include more complex, multi-cell microorganisms such as the rotifer. A rotifer preserved in Siberian permafrost for 24,000 years has been revived by Russian scientists at the Soil Cryology Laboratory at the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science in Pushchino, Russia.
Rotifers are aquatic microbes which live in freshwater habitats and moist soil. The specimen revived by the team was taken from the Siberian permafrost. Although in danger of melting away, the permafrost has provided a continually frozen environment preserving specimens for thousands of years. The frozen specimens are in a state of “almost completely arrested metabolism.” The rotifer has lain dormant for 24,000 years, since the Late Pleistocene, according to carbon dating of the ice layer in which it was discovered.[…]