Main conclusion: Dehydrins, PpDHNA and PpDHNB fromPhyscomitrella patensprovide drought and cold tolerance while PpDHNC shows antimicrobial property suggesting different dehydrins perform separate functions inP. patens. The moss Physcomitrella patens can withstand extremes of environmental condition including abiotic stress such as dehydration, salinity, low temperature and biotic stress such as pathogen attack. Osmotic stress is inflicted under both cold and drought stress conditions where dehydrins have been found to play a significant protective role. In this study, a comparative analysis was drawn for the three dehydrins PpDHNA, PpDHNB and PpDHNC from P. patens. Our data shows that PpDHNA and PpDHNB play a major role in cellular protection during osmotic stress. PpDHNB showed several fold upregulation of the gene when P. patens was subjected to cold and osmotic stress in combination. PpDHNA and PpDHNB provide protection to enzyme lactate dehydrogenase under osmotic as well as freezing conditions. PpDHNC possesses antibacterial activity and thus may have a role in biotic stress response. Overexpression of PpDHNA, PpDHNB and PpDHNC in transgenic tobacco showed a better performance for PpDHNB with respect to cold and osmotic stress. These results suggest that specific dehydrins contribute to tolerance of mosses under different stress conditions. © 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.