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Plant Physiol. 1983 Nov;73(3):773-7.

Freezing injury and root development in winter cereals.

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  • 1Crop Development Centre, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 0W0 Canada.


Upon exposure to 2 degrees C, the leaves and crowns of rye (Secale cereale L. cv ;Puma') and wheat (Triticum aestivum L. cv ;Norstar' and ;Cappelle') increased in cold hardiness, whereas little change in root cold hardiness was observed. Both root and shoot growth were severely reduced in cold-hardened Norstar wheat plants frozen to -11 degrees C or lower and transplanted to soil. In contrast, shoot growth of plants grown in a nutrient agar medium and subjected to the same hardening and freezing conditions was not affected by freezing temperatures of -20 degrees C while root growth was reduced at -15 degrees C. Thus, it was apparent that lack of root development limited the ability of plants to survive freezing under natural conditions.Generally, the temperatures at which 50% of the plants were killed as determined by the conductivity method were lower than those obtained by regrowth. A simple explanation for this difference is that the majority of cells in the crown are still alive while a small portion of the cells which are critical for regrowth are injured or killed.Suspension cultures of Norstar wheat grown in B-5 liquid medium supplemented with 3 milligrams per liter of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid could be cold hardened to the same levels as soil growth plants. These cultures produce roots when transferred to the same growth medium supplemented with a low rate of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (<1 milligram per liter). When frozen to -15 degrees C regrowth of cultures was 50% of the control, whereas the percentage of calli with root development was reduced 50% in cultures frozen to -11 degrees C. These results suggest that freezing affects root morphogenesis rather than just killing the cells responsible for root regeneration.

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