Few tissues or organisms can survive the removal of nearly all their intra and extracellular water. These few have developed specialized adaptations to protect their cellular components from the damage caused by desiccation and rehydration. One mechanism, common to almost all such organisms, is the accumulation of disaccharides within cells and tissues at the onset of dehydration. This adaptation has been extensively studied and will not be considered in this review. It has become increasingly clear that true desiccation tolerance is likely to involve several mechanisms working in concert; thus, we will highlight several other important and complimentary adaptations found especially in the dehydration-resistant tissues of higher plants. These include the scavenging of reactive oxygen species, the down-regulation of metabolism, and the accumulation of certain amphiphilic solutes, proteins, and polysaccharides.
Copyright 2001 Elsevier Science (USA).