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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2002 Jul 29;357(1423):871-5.

Signal transduction leading to low-temperature tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Author information

  • Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RB, UK. marc.knight@plant-sciences.oxford.co.uk


Calcium is used by most cells to convert external signals into biochemical events within the cytosol. To detect the effects of cold stress, a gene encoding apoaequorin has been introduced into various cell types that, in the presence of coelenterazine, allows calcium levels to be monitored by the emission of blue light. All cell types respond to the cold by elevating calcium. This event is rapid after cold stress but then shows a slower kinetic response. The magnitude is dependent on both the rate and the final temperature to which cooling occurs. It would appear that calcium is transferred both from outside the cell and from the vacuole into the cytosol. The more rapid phase involves the former and the slower phase the latter. By studying mutant plants, it has been identified that an increase in intracellular calcium can activate the expression of transcription factors that control the subsequent transcription of a whole battery of genes which must be switched on to provide cold tolerance in the plant.

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