Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


Biology (BIOL)

First Advisor

Dr. Philippa Drennan


Desiccation tolerance is the ability to survive through periods of extreme cellular water loss. Most seeds commonly exhibit a degree of desiccation tolerance while vegetative bodies of plants rarely show this characteristic. Desiccation tolerant vascular plants, in particular, are a rarity. Although this phenomenon may have potential benefits in crop populations worldwide, there are still many gaps in our scientific understanding. While the science behind the process of desiccating has been widely researched, the process of recovering from this state of stress, especially in restoring xylem activity after cavitation is still relatively unknown. Although plants normally gain water through their roots, this influx of water may not provide enough pressure to refill the entire plant’s vasculature, raising question to the role of leaf water absorption in the refilling process. This study will first provide a brief overview of the desiccation tolerant angiosperm Xerophyta elegans. Data comparing desiccated and hydrated states will then be presented to add to the body of literature as a foundation for investigating for the role of leaf water absorption on rehydration. Specifically, changes in length and width of the leaf, scanning electron microscopy of the leaf surface, and hydrophobicity measurements will be used to examine surface structures and morphology to characterize water relations on the leaf surface. Comparisons between histochemical staining at the middle and petiole of the leaves in desiccated and hydrated cross sections provides information on internal biochemical changes that may enhance water absorption along the leaf surface.

Included in

Biology Commons