Between a rock and a dry place: the water-stressed moss

Mol Plant. 2009 May;2(3):478-86. doi: 10.1093/mp/ssp018. Epub 2009 Mar 31.


The earliest land plants faced a suite of abiotic stresses largely unknown to their aquatic algal ancestors. The descendants of these plants evolved two general mechanisms for survival in the relatively arid aerial environment. While the vascular plants or 'tracheophytes' developed tissue specializations to transport and retain water, the other main lineages of land plants, the bryophytes, retained a simple, nonvascular morphology. The bryophytes--mosses, hornworts, and liverworts--continually undergo a co-equilibration of their water content with the surrounding environment and rely to a great extent on intrinsic cellular mechanisms to mitigate damage due to water stress. This short review will focus on the cellular and molecular responses to dehydration and rehydration in mosses, and offer insights into general plant responses to water stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bryophyta / genetics*
  • Bryophyta / metabolism
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • DNA, Plant / analysis
  • Dehydration*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Ferns / physiology
  • Genome, Plant*
  • Hepatophyta / genetics
  • Hepatophyta / physiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • DNA, Plant