Survival in Extreme Dryness and DNA-single-strand Breaks

Adv Space Res. 1992;12(4):221-9. doi: 10.1016/0273-1177(92)90176-x.


A wide variety of organisms (the so-called "anhydrobiotes') is able to survive long periods of time in a state of utmost dehydration and can thus survive in extremely dry environments including artificially imposed or space vacuum. Known strategies of survival include the accumulation of certain polyols, especially disaccharides, which help prevent damage to membranes and proteins. Here we report that DNA in vacuum-dried spores is damaged to a very substantial degree by processes leading to DNA strand breaks. Most of these lesions are obviously repaired during germination, but extensive damage to DNA and enzymes after long exposure times (months to years) finally diminish the chances of survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autoradiography
  • Bacillus subtilis*
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Repair
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • DNA, Bacterial / isolation & purification*
  • Desiccation
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
  • Germination
  • Spores, Bacterial
  • Vacuum


  • DNA, Bacterial