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A state of life in which the metabolic rate of an organism is reduced to an imperceptible level. The several kinds of cryptobiosis (“hidden life”) include anhydrobiosis (life without water), cryobiosis (life at low temperatures), and anoxybiosis (life without oxygen). The most is known about anhydrobiosis.

States of anhydrobiosis occur in early developmental stages of various organisms, including seeds of plants, spores of bacteria and fungi, cysts of certain crustaceans, and larvae of certain insects; they occur in both developmental and adult stages of certain soil-dwelling micrometazoans (rotifers, tardigrades, and nematodes), mosses, lichens, and certain ferns.

A central question in the study of anhydrobiosis has been whether metabolism actually ceases. Available evidence strongly suggests that dry anhydrobiotes are ametabolic. In that case, a philosophical question immediately arises concerning the nature of life. This philosophical quandary can be avoided by applying the definition of life adopted by most students of anhydrobiosis: an organism is alive, provided its structural integrity is maintained. When that integrity is violated, it is dead. See Metabolism

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Bioscience. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A state in which metabolic rate of the organism is reduced to an imperceptible level.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
In a now classic paper, Keilin (1959) summarized the historical relationships [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 2 OMITTED] of these terms and coined a new word, "cryptobiosis," meaning "latent life, for the state of an organism when it shows no visible signs of life when its metabolic activity becomes hardly measurable, or comes reversibly to a standstill."
In order to purge the anabiotic process of its spontaneous-generation taint, he says, scientists in this century renamed it cryptobiosis, meaning return to life, or anhydrobiosis, meaning life without water.
Similar evidences of pathological effects of Cryptobiosis in rainbow trout have also been documented by Lowe-Jinde (1986).