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杀不死的水熊虫

Meet the tardigrade, the toughest animal on Earth - Thomas Boothby

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Light up the world
没有水的话 一个人仅仅能活差不多100个小时
Without water, a human can only survive for about 100 hours.
但有种“坚韧”的生物 同样情况下 可以活数十年
But there’s a creature so resilient that it can go without it for decades.
这种只有一毫米大小的动物在地球的酷热
This one millimeter animal can survive both the hottest
和极寒的环境中都能生存
and coldest environments on Earth,
甚至扛得住高强度射线的辐射
and can even withstand high levels of radiation.
这就是水熊虫
This is the tardigrade,
虽然 看上去像 肥肥的 八条腿的胖熊
and it’s one of the toughest creatures on Earth,
却是地球上最坚韧的生物之一
even if it does look more like a chubby, eight-legged gummy bear.
大多数生命体都需要水分来维持生命
Most organisms need water to survive.
水能使新陈代谢得以发生
Water allows metabolism to occur,
这是促使所有的生化反应
which is the process that drives all the biochemical reactions
在细胞中进行的一个过程
that take place in cells.
但像缓步动物 即我们所熟知的水熊虫 这样的生物
But creatures like the tardigrade, also known as the water bear,
能够以 被称为低湿隐生的方法来应对这种限制
get around this restriction with a process called anhydrobiosis,
(该说法)为希腊语 意为 在没有水的情况下活着
from the Greek meaning life without water.
而且更特别的是 水熊虫“不是一个人在战斗”
And however extraordinary, tardigrades aren’t alone.
细菌
Bacteria,
被称为古生菌的单细胞生物
single-celled organisms called archaea,
植物
plants,
甚至其他动物也都耐得住干燥
and even other animals can all survive drying up.
从很多缓步动物来看
For many tardigrades,
(耐住干燥)就需要经历所谓的小桶状态
this requires that they go through something called a tun state.
它们会蜷缩成一团
They curl up into a ball,
把头和八条腿放进身体里
pulling their head and eight legs inside their body
直到有了水为止
and wait until water returns.
一般认为 缺水时
It’s thought that as water becomes scarce
水熊虫就会蜷缩成小桶状态
and tardigrades enter their tun state,
(然后)开始合成特殊的分子
they start synthesize special molecules,
以形成(新的)母体的方式
which fill the tardigrade’s cells to replace lost water
进入水熊虫的细胞 取代失去的水分
by forming a matrix.
细胞组织对缺水或干燥反应敏感
Components of the cells that are sensitive to dryness,
像DNA
like DNA,
蛋白质
proteins,
还有细胞膜
and membranes,
都被收集进母体
get trapped in this matrix.
就像把分子锁起来
It’s thought that this keeps these molecules locked in position
防止它们伸展开
to stop them from unfolding,
四散分离
breaking apart,
或融合在一起似的
or fusing together.
一旦水分得以补充 母体就会分解
Once the organism is rehydrated, the matrix dissolves,
留下未受损的功能细胞
leaving behind undamaged, functional cells.
除干燥外 水熊虫也能忍受其他极端压力:
Beyond dryness, tardigrades can also tolerate other extreme stresses:
被冷冻
being frozen,
放在超过沸点的水中煮
heated up past the boiling point of water,
高强度的辐射
high levels of radiation,
甚至外太空的真空环境
and even the vacuum of outer space.
这就导致了一些错误的推断
This has led to some erroneous speculation
认为水熊虫是天外来客
that tardigrades are extraterrestrial beings.
想想都很有意思
While that’s fun to think about,
科学证据表明 它们的老家显然是在地球上
scientific evidence places their origin firmly on Earth
并且 随着时间的流逝 它们也在不断进化
where they’ve evolved over time.
事实上 水熊虫在地球上的进化
In fact, this earthly evolution has given rise
已经超过了1100种
to over 1100 known species of tardigrades
大概已经有很多其他的品种被发现了吧
and there are probably many others yet to be discovered.
正因为水熊虫的坚强 使它们可以在任何地方生存
And because tardigrades are so hardy, they exist just about everywhere.
它们可以生活在任何大洲 包括南极洲
They live on every continent, including Antarctica.
可以存在于各种生物群落区 包括沙漠
And they’re in diverse biomes including deserts,
冰川
ice sheets,
海洋
the sea,
淡水
fresh water,
热带雨林
rainforests,
以及高山之巅
and the highest mountain peaks.
但你也能在再寻常不过的地方找到水熊虫
But you can find tardigrades in the most ordinary places, too,
比如庭院中的苔藓或青苔上
like moss or lichen found in yards,
公园里
parks,
森林中
and forests.
你所需要的 只是稍许耐心以及一台显微镜
All you need to find them is a little patience and a microscope.
科学家正试图弄清楚 水熊虫是否会利用小桶状态
Scientists are now to trying to find out whether tardigrades use the tun state,
这种它们抵御干燥的技巧
their anti-drying technique,
来经受其他的生存压力
to survive other stresses.
如果我们能弄懂它们和其他生物是如何做到
If we can understand how they, and other creatures,
稳固其敏感的生物分子的
stabilize their sensitive biological molecules,
或许就可以利用这一知识来稳固我们的疫苗
perhaps we could apply this knowledge to help us stabilize vaccines,
或培育出忍耐压力的作物以应对地球不断变化的气候
or to develop stress-tolerant crops that can cope with Earth’s changing climate.
通过学习水熊虫如何幸存于
And by studying how tardigrades survive
外太空 在真空环境持续曝露
prolonged exposure to the vacuum of outer space,
科学家能得到水熊虫生存极限的线索
scientists can generate clues about the environmental limits of life
以及做好宇航员防护措施的方法
and how to safeguard astronauts.
在此过程中 水熊虫甚至能帮我们解答决定性的问题:
In the process, tardigrades could even help us answer a critical question:
生命体能够在 比现有环境更恶劣的星球生存吗
could life survive on planets much less hospitable than our own?

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视频概述

以前一直以为只有蟑螂才是小强,现在知道了,天外有天,小强外有小强。水熊虫这样低调的强哥真是不可小觑啊。

听录译者

收集自网络

翻译译者

启点—飞雪群山

审核员

Vicky

视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxndOd3kmSs

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