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Nature. 2002 Mar 7;416(6876):38.

Anhydrobiosis: plant desiccation gene found in a nematode.

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  • 1Department of Biology and Institute of Bioengineering and Agroecology, National University of Ireland Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland.


When subjected to drought conditions, some organisms enter a state of suspended animation known as anhydrobiosis, surviving for indefinite periods until rehydration allows them to resume normal metabolism. We have identified a gene in the anhydrobiotic nematode Aphelenchus avenae that is upregulated in response to desiccation stress and whose encoded protein shares sequence similarity with a late-embryonic gene that is induced in many plants when they are deprived of water. This finding suggests that animals and plants that undergo anhydrobiosis may use common protective strategies against dehydration, and provides a unifying insight into the mechanism of anhydrobiosis.

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