Annu Rev Physiol. 1992;54:579-99. doi: 10.1146/


We believe we have established the major principles governing the stabilization of living cells in the unique condition known as anhydrobiosis. These findings have permitted us to design ways to stabilize membrane vesicles, liposomes, and proteins, and perhaps eventually even intact cells that do not normally survive dehydration. In a complex phenomenon as ancient as anhydrobiosis, one would expect a myriad of adaptations to be required for survival of drying. But the arguments presented here suggest that a single perturbation--synthesis of a disaccharide such as trehalose or sucrose--is sufficient to achieve survival. We hasten to add, however, that it is now certain that additional adaptations are required; for instance, cells containing highly unsaturated lipids may survive drying for a short time, but they are so susceptible to degradation that they survive for a short time only. Thus the interpretation placed on the finding that trehalose can stabilize dry membranes must be regarded from this perspective as well. Nevertheless, we believe that the underlying physical principles governing stability of dry biological materials are universal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Dehydration* / physiopathology
  • Membranes / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Pollen / physiology
  • Proteins / physiology
  • Trehalose / physiology
  • Yeasts / physiology


  • Proteins
  • Trehalose