Ionizing radiation responses appear incidental to desiccation responses in the bdelloid rotifer Adineta vaga

Victoria Moris, Lucie Bruneau, Jeremy Berthe, Anne-Catherine Heuskin, Sebastien Penninckx, Silvia Ritter, Uli Weber, Marco Durante, Etienne G.J. Danchin, Boris Hespeels, Karine Van Doninck

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Background: The remarkable resistance to ionizing radiation found in anhydrobiotic organisms, such as some bacteria, tardigrades, and bdelloid rotifers has been hypothesized to be incidental to their desiccation resistance. Both stresses produce reactive oxygen species and cause damage to DNA and other macromolecules. However, this hypothesis has only been investigated in a few species. Results: In this study, we analyzed the transcriptomic response of the bdelloid rotifer Adineta vaga to desiccation and to low- (X-rays) and high- (Fe) LET radiation to highlight the molecular and genetic mechanisms triggered by both stresses. We identified numerous genes encoding antioxidants, but also chaperones, that are constitutively highly expressed, which may contribute to the protection of proteins against oxidative stress during desiccation and ionizing radiation. We also detected a transcriptomic response common to desiccation and ionizing radiation with the over-expression of genes mainly involved in DNA repair and protein modifications but also genes with unknown functions that were bdelloid-specific. A distinct transcriptomic response specific to rehydration was also found, with the over-expression of genes mainly encoding Late Embryogenesis Abundant proteins, specific heat shock proteins, and glucose repressive proteins. Conclusions: These results suggest that the extreme resistance of bdelloid rotifers to radiation might indeed be a consequence of their capacity to resist complete desiccation. This study paves the way to functional genetic experiments on A. vaga targeting promising candidate proteins playing central roles in radiation and desiccation resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalBMC biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024


  • Antioxidants
  • Bdelloid rotifers
  • Desiccation
  • DNA repair
  • Radiation


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