Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, NARO

Identification of key substances for desiccation tolerance in an anhydrobiotic insect and elucidation of their functions

-Towards the development of a technology for storing cells in a dry state at room temperature-

The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), in collaboration with the Riken research institute, etc. have identified key substances that are accumulated during the desiccation and rehydration (re-immersion in water) of Polypedilum vanderplanki, an anhydrobiotic insect, and have elucidated their functions. By utilizing the substances identified from this research, it is expected to pave the way for the development of a new technology for storing cells at room temperature.


In general, severe dehydration can lead to the death of organisms. However, it is known that some organisms can survive even if they are completely dehydrated. This phenomenon is called anhydrobiosis and has been in focus to develop a new technology for storing cells and biological material at room temperature.

Polypedilum vanderplanki is a rare insect with ametabolic diapause ability and known for its complete desiccation tolerance. Until now, various studies have been carried out to understand the mechanism of anhydrobiosis in Polypedilum vanderplanki but key substances involved in desiccation tolerance remained to be identified.

The research group led by NARO, RIKEN, and Kazan Federal University (Russia)、has comprehensively investigated substances that are accumulated specifically during desiccation in the larva of Polypedilum vanderplanki. Results showed that Trehalose is a driving source of antioxidant activity. Especially, the mechanism that enables energy synthesis immediately after the rehydration of dry larvae and the accumulation of non-toxic metabolic waste products was also revealed. This research is expected to pave the way for the development of a new technology for storing cells at room temperature.


Ryabova, A., Cornette, R., Cherkasov, A., Watanabe, M., Okuda, T., Shagimardanova, E., et al. (2020). Combined metabolome and transcriptome analysis reveals key components of complete desiccation tolerance in an anhydrobiotic insect. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 117(32), 19209-19220.

For Inquiries