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Sleeping ugly

Study reveals genetic details behind springtails’ winter survival

9:28am, July 22, 2009

Instead of chopping firewood and pulling out the mittens to prepare for chilly winter days, the Arctic springtail hunkers down and dries itself out. A study published online July 21 in BMC Genomics identifies some of the genes that allow for the millimeters-long arthropod’s extreme wintering stunt.

When temperatures drop below freezing, Arctic springtails (Megaphorura arctica) lose a massive amount of water and shrivel into little husks. In this way — a method called cryoprotective dehydration — the critters ride out harsh winter

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