Cryptobiosis is defined as a state in which metabolic activities come to a reversible standstill. It is an ametabolic state of life entered by an organism in response to adverse environmental conditions such as desiccation, freezing, and oxygen deficiency. In the cryptobiotic state, all metabolic procedures stop, preventing reproduction, development, and repair. An organism in a cryptobiotic state can essentially live indefinitely until environmental conditions return to being hospitable. When this occurs, the organism will return to its metabolic state of life as it was prior to the cryptobiosis.
The tardigrade, or water bear, is a widely studied and notable example, partially because it can undergo all five types of cryptobiosis. While in a cryptobiotic state, the tardigrade's metabolism reduces to less than 0.01% of what is normal, and its water content can drop to 1% of normal. It can withstand extreme temperature, radiation, and pressure while in a cryptobiotic state.
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