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Durham e-Theses
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Desiccation tolerance

Potts, Malcolm (1995) Desiccation tolerance. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Despite the fundamental significance of desiccation in determining the distributions and activities of living organisms, there is virtually no insight as to the state of the cytoplasm of an air-dried, or even a wet, cell. In bacterial cells that have been subjected to air-drying the evaporation of free cytoplasmic water (Vf) can be instantaneous, and an equilibrium between cell-bound water (VQ and the environmental water (vapor) potential (Ψwv) may be achieved very rapidly. In the air-dried state some bacteria survive only for seconds, others can tolerate desiccation for thousands, perhaps for millions, of years. The means by which certain cells, the anhydrobiotes, overcome and then tolerate acute water deficit remains one of the most intractable problems in cell biology. One such anhydrobiote, the cyanobacterium Nostoc commune, is cosmopolitan, its colonies form visually-conspicuous and abundant growths in situ, and it constitutes an ecologically-significant component of terrestial nitrogen-fixing communities. The cyanobacteria are phylogenetically-significant organisms that provide model systems for the study of a broad range of problems in cell biology. The studies described in this thesis established the molecular ecology and cell biology of Nostoc commune, and they provide a chronicle of the development of this microorganism as the prokaryotic model for the anhydrobiotic cell. In the design of experiments to investigate this problem the bias was, and remains, this: to understand desiccation tolerance, understand an organism that tolerates desiccation. The thesis documents an investigation into the consequences of acute cell-water deficit and the cellular basis for desiccation tolerance. An eclectic approach has been adopted to study desiccation tolerance and it includes the application of techniques of cell biology, biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, structural biology and biophysics.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1995
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:02

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