Water bear

Milnesium tardigradum. Photo by Schokraie E, Warnken U, Hotz-Wagenblatt A, Grohme MA, Hengherr S, et al. (2012). Source: Wikipedia

The water bear, a tiny tardigrade, has inspired a couple of products that greatly reduce the need for refrigeration. Conservation Magazine recently published a story about one of these companies, Biomatrica. Biomatrica has developed ways to store biological samples like tissues, DNA, and cells, using lessons learned from organisms like the water bear and brine shrimp – both of which can survive dehydration. Not only does this technology save labs money, it also protects scientists’ valuable research from being lost due to power outages.

Another company that mimicked the water bear’s and other extremophiles’ survival strategies is Stabiltech. This company focuses on stabilizing vaccines and pharmaceuticals, solving the problem of needing to maintain the “cold chain.” That is, rather than keeping these materials refrigerated from manufacture to delivery, they are stored dry. Vaccines can be delivered into parts of countries with no electricity and remain viable.

Often biomimicry is about mimicking form. However, this biomimicry is deeper; it’s about mimicking process. It’s also about saving energy, and providing social benefits, which gets at the true definition of biomimicry.



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