Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale Unit 1001, Faculté de Médecine Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, 75751 Paris Cedex 15, France.


Bdelloid rotifers, a class of freshwater invertebrates, are extraordinarily resistant to ionizing radiation (IR). Their radioresistance is not caused by reduced susceptibility to DNA double-strand breakage for IR makes double-strand breaks (DSBs) in bdelloids with essentially the same efficiency as in other species, regardless of radiosensitivity. Instead, we find that the bdelloid Adineta vaga is far more resistant to IR-induced protein carbonylation than is the much more radiosensitive nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. In both species, the dose–response for protein carbonylation parallels that for fecundity reduction, manifested as embryonic death. We conclude that the great radioresistance of bdelloid rotifers is a consequence of an unusually effective system of anti-oxidant protection of cellular constituents, including those required for DSB repair, allowing bdelloids to recover and continue reproducing after doses of IR causing hundreds of DSBs per nucleus. Bdelloid rotifers therefore offer an advantageous system for investigation of enhanced anti-oxidant protection and its consequences in animal systems.

Keywords: cell death, Deinococcus radiodurans, desiccation, DNA breakage