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We have learnt already about five years ago that    bacteria   are a serious danger to tardigrade health. In the scientific literature Dewel & Dewel presented a fine description of parasitic take-over strategies (Tardigrade Symposium in Modena 1985, see literature): Some fungus parasites clinge to the tardigrade skin, enter by a hole and continue their detrimental life cycle within the tardigrade body fluid. Most tardigrade parasites are comparatively small, still invisible by means of the low magnification under a dissecting microscope. But when looking closer the attacks become clearly evident. The photomicrograph below depicts a late stage of the infection. It is obvious that the balloon like structures on the outer surface are exerting some kind of a negative influence within the inner volume, too.

[ tardigrades, parasites ]

Eutardigrade water bear with ballon-like parasites.

Even at highest light microscopic magnifications the inner structure and detail of the parasites are difficult to investigate. The image below shows the "docking" instrument.

[ tardigrades, parasites ]

Detail of the tardigrade head with parasites. Image width ca. 0.1 mm.

In order to find a less melancholic end we would like to switch to a more sunny topic. In case you should live close to the sea or go on holiday to an ocean: why not study maritime tardigrades as well? We promise to present a maritime tardigrade in the next issue.


William C. Dewell and Ruth Ann Dewel published a thrilling report on the life cycle of parasites - it includes lots of bibliographic references as well.

William R. Dewel, Ruth Ann Dewel: Study of a moss community containing  Milnesium tardigradum  parasitized by a chytridiomycetous fungus.
In: Biology of Tardigrades (Roberto Bertolani Ed.), S. 45 - 56. Modena 1987.

© Text, images and video clips by  Martin Mach  (webmaster@baertierchen.de).
Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of the German language monthly magazine  Bärtierchen-Journal . Style and grammar amendments by native speakers are warmly welcomed.

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