Wiggly Water Bears

This charismatic creature is called a tardigrade (also known as a water bear). The scientific name for the animal shown here is Hypsibius exemplaris. These amazing animals were kindly provided to the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Embryology Class during Summer 2018 by Dr. Bob Goldstein from UNC Chapel Hill. Dr. Goldstein’s lab has turned these resilient creatures into a captivating new model system for understanding questions in developmental biology.

To image, I placed a reusable spacer on a slide and put a drop of water with the animal into the well of the spacer. I placed a cover slip over the top and sealed the edges with tape so that water wouldn’t leak out. I then was able to attach my smartphone to my foldscope (with illumination from the LED light in my kit) and record the video using my phone camera.

If you’re interested to learn more about the Embryology course, check out this link: https://www.mbl.edu/education/courses/embryology/

8 Comments Add yours

  1. laksiyer says:

    This is a gorgeous video. First time seeing this species. Most of mine have been Milnesium. Are you propagating it?

    1. knesbit says:

      Thanks so much! I am not actually culturing these guys as I am not a part of the Goldstein lab. I just had the opportunity to learn about these animals while attending the Embryology course at the MBL, which Bob Goldstein was an instructor for. I do know that his lab is working to culture this species though, so if you’re interested in how that is done, you can check out the some of the labs papers on their tardigrade models that I’ve linked below.

  2. Akib says:

    Nice video. You can clearly see the claws in the video. However, even after searching several moss suspensions, I never found one. Is there any way to increase the possibilities of finding a tardigrade? Want to know.

    1. knesbit says:

      Thanks! I’m not an expert in finding these guys in nature, and this particular sample was from a laboratory culture. As part of the class I was in where we looked at these guys, we also collecting to try to find tardigrades from nature. We collected a bunch of samples of soil, moss, and lichen from a damp woody area, so you’re looking in all the right places as far as I can tell. You may just have to sift through several samples. When we were trying to find water bears from the moss samples we would place the moss in a dish of water and let it sit for a while to settle, and then look back at it later under a microscope to pick out movement because these guys are usually pretty active. Hope that helps! 🙂

      1. laksiyer says:

        Hi @Akib. In my experience in the NE USA, for every 4 lichens I pick from different trees, I am likely to get one tardigrade after 3 days of suspension.

    1. knesbit says:

      Thanks so much!

  3. Manu Prakash says:

    Welcome to foldscope community @Knesbit.


Leave a Reply