Publication Details

Brown, A. D. (1976). Microbial water stress. Bacteriological Reviews, 40 (4), 803-846.


A fellow of my acquaintance, on seeing a colleague drink undiluted water (55.5 molal), has been known to comment in disapproval that water at such a concentration should not be used for that purpose and that its main function is for putting around the outside of boats. He conceded that dilution with a little salt is acceptable for boats but for no other purpose. The proponent of this philosophy is not a biologist and it is unlikely that many biologists would accept his generalization without some qualification. Nevertheless, it is a point of view. Another point of view with which all biologists might not agree, at least initially, is one which I wish to advance in this review. It is that, notwithstanding the indispensability of water in living systems and the unique properties of solvent water, quantitative variations in the amount of water available are of less direct microbiological significance than is generally conceded.