Thomas Hygum – University of Copenhagen

Thomas Hygum

Desiccation and chemical stress tolerance in tardigrades

With the August Krogh Centre scholarship I gained the opportunity to continue work, commenced during my bachelor project, on desiccation tolerance in the marine tidal heterotardigrade Echiniscoides sigismundi, and to further expand my studies to also involve effects of environmental toxins in tardigrade species representing different evolutionary lineages and environmental adaptations.

During my bachelor, I produced data on desiccation tolerance in Echiniscoides sigismundi, which indicated that this tardigrade tolerates dehydration from sea water as well as purified water. With the August Krogh Centre scholarship, I was able to complete my data-set and we have now submitted a paper, on which I am first author, suggesting that formation of the so-called “tun” originally was a response to elevated osmotic pressure. I presented this data at the 13th international symposium on Tardigrada (Modena, Italy) in June 2015.

The scholarship has furthermore given me the opportunity to familiarize myself with the field of ecotoxicology and to meet and collaborate with scientists from other fields and Universities. The process of working with scientific data, making sure that it is good enough to be published, and working with it statistically and graphically has given me valuable experience, and in the end writing an academic paper has taught me a great lesson for the future. I was recently enrolled as a PhD student.