application in the furture
The sleeping chironomid flying to space!
The sleeping chironomid as a teaching material
A living food for tropical fishes in aquarium
Did you know that we performed experiments with sleeping chironomids traveling to space? In collaboration with the Russian academy of sciences, desiccated larvae of the sleeping chironomid were choosen as experimental material and stayed on the international space station (ISS). This experiment has been made to verify what kind of effects would have the exposure of larvae to the environment inside a spaceship.
In September 2005, a Progress supply spacecraft carrying desiccated larvae was launched from the republic of Kazakhstan. After docking with the ISS, larvae spend 30 days inside the space station and they finally came back on earth in October 2005, transported by a Soyuz spacecraft.

These samples of sleeping chironomid larvae were transported to Japan one week later and studied by our research group. Once immersed into water, the larvae recovered normally, just as desiccated larvae conserved on earth. They also developed normally to pupae and finally adults. After mating with adult males, adult females laid egg masses, which hatched to larvae. Those F1 larvae continue developing without any problem. This demonstrates that the environment inside a spacecraft has no effect on desiccated larvae of the sleeping chironomid.

Furthermore, sleeping chironomid desiccated larvae were launched again to the ISS via a Soyuz rocket in March 2007. This time, larvae were put in a metallic cassette together with other samples, such as barley seeds, and they are exposed directly to space environment outside of the spaceship. After exposure for 4 months, 1 year and one year and a half to space, each cassette will be collected and transported back to earth. This experiment will allow us to evaluate what kind of stress the larvae undergo in space environment and if they will recover after such a treatment. Currently, sleeping chironomids are still flying on the space station.
In the present context, where children are said to loose their interest for sciences at school, the sleeping chironomid represents a perfect living material for teaching mystery and the diversity of life. Since desiccated larvae can be conserved at room temperature and recover activity within 1 hour in water, the sleeping chironomid may be used for demonstrations at school or for practical work at the university. The size of the larvae is large enough to allow the observation of their fine anatomy under a binocular microscope. In the perspective of mass production as a teaching material, the reproduction of individuals that potentially escaped in the field can be avoided by an irradiation treatment for sterilization (experimentally verified). The practical use of the sleeping chironomid as a teaching material is expected in a near future.
Currently, the main food purchased for tropical fishes consists in lyophilized mosquito larvae. However, there are some problems such as the loss of food quality due to the oxidation of fatty acids accompanying conservation, and some fish species accept only living prays. In comparison, the larvae of the sleeping chironomid can be conserved for a long time at room temperature in a desiccated form without notable loss of quality and they can be used as a living food since the can recover activity after a short time in water. Thus the larvae of the sleeping chironomid represent an ideal food for aquarium fishes. However, mass production is still difficult and a more efficient breeding system is currently in course of development.