Physiology of Poikilohydric Plants

  • Wolfram Hartung
  • Petra Schiller
  • Karl-Josef Dietz
Part of the Progress in Botany book series (BOTANY, volume 59)


The capability of cells, organs or whole organisms to survive cycles of dehydration and rehydration has evolved in most systematic groups of the plant kingdom. Interestingly, even in the systematic group of the angiosperms, where the sporophytic plant body is usually characterized by high sensitivity towards dehydration, specific structures such as seeds or pollen may undergo excessive water loss without losing viability. Both the distribution of dehydration tolerance throughout the plant kingdom and the occurrence of tolerant structures in most species suggest that many or most structural and metabolic properties required for dehydration tolerance are present in all plants and that only some changes in the developmental program are required to realize the trait of resurrecting a dried plant body. If this provocative conclusion is correct, the question arises why only a limited number of plants have relied on the maintenance of dehydration tolerance. The likely reason is that dehydration tolerance, particularly in higher plants, is advantageous only under very extreme growth conditions but simultaneously poses a severe selective disadvantage in competition for growth, reproduction and spreading under most other growth conditions. In this context, it is important to note that even most resurrection plants must first undergo a period of moderate water loss in order to develop full dehydration tolerance.


Drought Stress Relative Water Content Compatible Solute Desiccation Tolerance Resurrection Plant 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfram Hartung
    • 1
  • Petra Schiller
    • 1
  • Karl-Josef Dietz
    • 1
  1. 1.Julius-von-Sachs-InstitutUniversität WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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