I have searched around and read my textbook but I am failing to understand how enantiostasis is different to homeostasis. For reference, Wikipedia definition is as follows:

Enantiostasis is the ability of an open system, especially a living organism, to maintain and conserve its metabolic and physiological functions in response to variations in an unstable environment. Estuarine organisms typically undergo enantiostasis in order to survive with constantly changing salt concentrations.

  • $\begingroup$ hsc.csu.edu.au/biology/core/balance/9_2_3/923net.html towards the bottom of the page. $\endgroup$ – AMR Nov 25 '15 at 5:21
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE. You are citing the wikipedia definition, not the Google definition $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Nov 25 '15 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ The Wikipedia page you're referring to more or less has the answer: "Enantiostasis is not a form of classical homeostasis, meaning "standing at a similar level," which focused on maintenance of internal body conditions such as pH, oxygen levels, and ion concentrations. Rather than maintaining homeostatic (stable ideal) conditions, enantiostasis involves maintaining only functionality in spite of external fluctuations" $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Dec 2 '15 at 10:41

Both are ways for an organism to adapt to the environment, but enantiostasis focuses on maintaining functionality while homeostasis focuses on maintaining a stable internal environment.

For example, if the organism has to deal with changing salt concentration in water, it can do it in two ways:

  • Homeostasis : the organism will adapt itself so that its internal conditions do not change despite the change in the external environment (the focus is on not changing these conditions). This could mean stopping or reducing other activities because of this adaptation, but, in this example, the internal conditions (salt concentration inside the organism) will not change.
  • Enantiostasis : the organism adapt itself so that its functionality is preserved, at the possible expanse of stable internal conditions. This could mean the salt concentration in the organism will change, but the organism's functions will not stop or be reduced because of it. Enantiostasis can be realized either by avoiding external changes (for example, absorbing more water when the salt concentration is high and less when it's low) or tolerating it with a wide range of possible conditions.

(Source : detailed explanation on this subject as a commentary on a university course)

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