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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1997 Apr;37(3):287-309.

Preservation of biological materials under desiccation.

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Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses, Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.


A number of life forms, including seeds, certain nematodes, bacterial and fungal spores, and cysts of certain crustaceans, show an ability to survive desiccation. The present article reviews the literature available on this subject and critically evaluates the evidence for various mechanisms that may be responsible for these phenomena. Specific mechanisms considered include vitrification (glass formation) by sugars and other polyhydroxy compounds that are accumulated by the desiccated structures, specific effects of polyhydroxy compounds on membranes, effect of "compatible solutes" on conformation of key proteins, as well as other biochemical mechanisms. The article presents potential applications relevant to food technology and to biotechnology and reviews the research required to materialize more effective use of desiccation in food and biopreservation.

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