Water is indispensable
for life. This project addresses a fundamental mechanism that is
essential to all life on earth, the ability to conserve water and
balance ions. Anhydrophilic communities exist under 'feast or famine'
conditions with regards to water availability. The mechanisms of
cell survival as it enters the air-dried state, remains desiccated
for extended periods of time (months to years), and leaves the air
dried state upon rehydration, are poorly understood. Understanding
the responses and mechanisms of anhydrophilic communities that allow
them to survive prolonged periods of desiccation and sudden rehydration
can provide crucial information on the structure/function relationships
of membranes, carbohydrates, enzymes, and nucleic acids. Monitoring
the physiological responses of pristine anhydrophilic, communities
over time and under different conditions of water availability will
provide information necessary to understanding how long and short
term climatic oscillations impact critical biogeochemical cycles.