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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1999 May 1;174(1):57-63.

Osmotically induced intracellular trehalose, but not glycine betaine accumulation promotes desiccation tolerance in Escherichia coli.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali, Università degli Studi di Parma, Italy.


Trehalose considerably increased the tolerance of Escherichia coli to air drying, whether added as an excipient prior to drying or accumulated as a compatible solute in response to osmotic stress. The protective effect of exogenously added trehalose was concentration dependent, up to a threshold value of 350 mM. However, trehalose alone cannot explain the intrinsically greater desiccation tolerance of stationary compared to exponential phase E. coli cells, although their tolerance was also enhanced by exogenous or endogenously accumulated trehalose. In contrast, glycine betaine whether added as an excipient or accumulated intracellularly had no influence on desiccation tolerance. These data demonstrate that the protection provided by compatible solutes to cells subjected to desiccation differs from that during osmotic stress, due to the much greater reduction in available cell water. The protective effects of trehalose during desiccation appear to be due to its stabilising influence on membrane structure, its chemically inert nature and the propensity of trehalose solutions to form glasses upon drying, properties which are not shared by glycine betaine.

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