What makes desiccation tolerable?
It is no small feat for an organism, after losing more than 90% of its cellular water, to live and continue growing after rehydration. Many plants, one might argue, perform this trick when seeds develop; the topic here, however, is not seed maturation, dormancy and successful germination, but tolerance to extreme desiccation in the vegetative state. This involves, for example, the often rapid, non-destructive drying of existing leaves and their survival after water is returned. The ability to withstand such water loss is common to many algae and lichens, and is also found in liverworts, mosses, fern-like species and some ferns. The ability is missing entirely from gymnosperms but appears again in a few angiosperms. Oliver, Tuba and Mishler cover extremist strategies for survival under water deficit in a recent article  entitled ‘The evolution of desiccation tolerance in land plants’. Their discussion offers an evolutionary view, outlines different strategies of tolerance acquisition
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