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Ingemar Jönsson

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19992021

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Research

My research during the last 15 years has focused on the evolution of desiccation tolerance in so-called anhydrobiotic animals, and the biochemical mechanisms behind this adaptation. Anhydrobiotic animals live in environments that are exposed to desiccation and may lose practically all water in their cells without dying. In my research I use theoretical, experimental, and descriptive methods. My main study object is tardigrades, one of the most desiccation-tolerant animals on Earth. Tardigrades often live in vegetation or soil at extremely dry or cold sites. 

Tardigrades not only have a remarkable ability to stand desiccation, they are also very tolerant to radiation (ionizing rad. och UV), factors that are known to give rise to damage to DNA. Tolerance to ionizing radiation is observed both in desiccated and in hydrated (active) specimens, and levels of tolerance are among the highest known in animals. Together with radiation biologists at Stockholm University we study radiation tolerance and the molecular biology of DNA repair of tardigrades. 

The tolerance of tardigrades to desiccation and radiation has led to speculations that these animals may be able to survive in open space, where space vacuum and cosmic radiation set limits to most other organisms. The TARDIS (TARdigrades In Space) project 2007, supported by the European Space Agency was the first to evaluate if tardigrades can in fact survive open space, and showed that tardigrades as the first animal can survive space vacuum, cosmic radiation and high doses of UV-radiation in space. The TARDIS project was a collaboration with Dr. Elke Rabbow and Petra Rettberg at German Space Agency, Dr. Ralph O. Schill, University of Stuttgart, and Prof. Mats Harms-Ringdahl, Stockholm University. 

Research on ecosystem services and environmental behavior  

RRecently initiated research focuses on aspects of the transformation towards sustainable societies, with projects on the implementation of ecosystem services at municipal level, eco-labelling strategies, and ecosystem services for outdoor recreation. Much of this research is connected to the biosphere reserve Kristianstad Vattenrike. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

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