Desiccation Tolerance of Aeroterrestrial Green Algae

Project leader: Andreas Holzinger

Project members: Beatrix Jungwirth, Klaus Herburger, Kathrin Blaas (Universität Innsbruck), Louise Lewis (Storrs, USA), Ulf Karsten (Rostock, Germany), Fabio Rindi (Ancona, Italy), Burkhard Becker (Cologne, Germany),  Martina Pichrtová (Prague, Czech Republik), Rosalina Stancheva (San Marcos, CA, USA), Robert G Sheath (San Marcos, CA, USA), John D Hall (Maryland, USA), Richard M McCourt (Philadelphia, USA)

Funding: Universitätszentrum Obergurgl, Tiroler Wissenschaftsfonds, FWF (Austrian Science Fund) P-24242 PI: Andreas Holzinger

Duration: 2015-2019

Aeroterrestrial soil algae are important components of soil crusts growing in high alpine habitats. The organisms like the green alga Klebsormidium sp. have to face periods of desiccation. In this project the ability to tolerate desiccation in the vegetative state is investigated at the physiological as well as cell biological level. Upon desiccation photosynthesis is reduced to a minimum, whereas upon rehydration initial levels are gained within a few hours. These observations go along with maintenance of the organelle integrity of chloroplasts and the nucleus. Severe rearrangements are observed in the cytoskeleton.

Experimentally desiccation is tested either by controlled drying or by osmotic stress followed by measurements of the photosynthetic oxygen production and transmission electron microscopy.

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