Project Description

The world’s cutest extremophile is the tardigrade, a multicellular microscopic organism found in almost every environment on earth. Also known as ‘water bears’, these little creatures can survive the dryness and cold of outer space when in their cryptobiotic state. We transferred the tardigrade proteins thought to be responsible for this amazing resilience to other organisms to see if they provided protection from desiccation. Our results suggest that these proteins could be valuable additives to bacterial cultures and protein formulations, potentially acting as a preservative during storage.

Since tardigrades are somewhere between C. elegans and Drosophila on the tree of life and have limbs, they are attractive models for studying development. We investigated how this might be achieved by using CRISPR to knock out tardigrade genes implicated in development.

Additionally, we developed a novel qPCR-based method for measuring plasmid copy number.

For full description please see the full project description page.


  • We uploaded 16 new parts to the online registry.
  • We synthesized and submitted 9 new DNA parts (see parts page for complete list).
  • We characterized 2 new parts we submitted (BBa_K2128100 and BBa_K2128104)
  • We improved the characterization of pSB1C3, the iGem standard submission backbone, by using qPCR to better quantify copy number.
  • Collaborated with 3 other iGEM teams: Stony Brook, BioBrick Foundation, and University of Georgia Teams
  • Ran 3 public engagement events around synthetic biology and use of CRISPR
  • Integrated human practices into project design when using CRISPR
  • Improved characterization of pSB1C3 by developing a new method to measure copy number more precisely
  • Demonstrated that tardigrade proteins can protect E. coli from desiccation.

A special thank you to the following people

  • Rachel Young for generously sponsoring several student's entry into the iGEM competition.
  • Dr. David Matus & Abraham Kohrman from Stony Brook University for generously assisting us with access and training on a micro-injector.