CAMARILLO, Calif. — The tardigrade is a microscopic water monster that has eight legs and a gaping mouth with gnashing teeth. And it’s nearly indestructible.

After being “dried out,” it can survive extreme heat or cold, and even live in the vacuum of space. But, once rehydrated, it can bounce back to life.

Scientists like Dr. Hugo Tapia, a molecular biologist at Cal State University, Channel Islands, are studying how genes from the tardigrade can be spliced into other living organisms, like plants, so they, too, can survive with very little water. This could help humanity as it deals with climate change and having to grow food with less water resources.