Is there a single biochemical adaptation to anhydrobiosis?

John H. Crowe, Ann E. Oliver, Fern Tablin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Even though water is required for the maintenance of biological integrity, numerous organisms are capable of surviving loss of virtually all their cellular water and existing in a state known as anhydrobiosis. Over the past three decades we and others have established that disaccharides such as trehalose and sucrose are almost certainly involved in stabilizing the dry cells. We discuss here some of the evidence behind the mechanism of this stabilization. Until the past few years this mechanism has been sufficiently appealing that a consensus has been developing that acquisition of these sugars in the cytoplasm may be both necessary and sufficient for anhydrobiosis. We show here that there are other routes to achieve the effects conferred by the sugars and that other adaptations are almost certainly required, at least in environmental conditions that are less than optimal. Under optimal storage conditions, the presence of the sugars alone may be sufficient to stabilize even mammalian cells in the dry state, findings that are already finding use in human clinical medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-503
Number of pages7
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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