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Tree Physiol. 1998 Jul;18(7):451-458.

Freezing behaviors in leaf buds of cold-hardy conifers visualized by NMR microscopy.

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Water Research Institute, Sengen 2-1-6, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-0047 Japan.


1H-Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) microscopy was used to study freezing behavior in wintering leaf buds of Momi fir (Abies firma Sieb. et Zucc.) and Japanese red pine (Pinus densiflora Sieb. et Zucc.). The images acquired predominantly reflected the density of mobile (i.e., non-ice) protons mainly from unfrozen water. By comparing images taken at various subfreezing temperatures, we determined which tissues produced the high and low temperature exotherms detected by differential thermal analyses. Typical extra-organ freezing was successfully imaged in leaf buds of A. firma. The bud scales readily froze at -7 degrees C, but shoot primordia remained supercooled to -14 degrees C in December buds and to -21 degrees C in March buds. The size of supercooled shoot primordia was reduced with decreasing temperature, indicating a gradual decrease in water content of the shoot primordia. In contrast, the signal from shoot primordia of P. densiflora disappeared between -7 and -14 degrees C, corresponding to the high temperature exotherm at -8 degrees C, indicating extracellular freezing of the shoot primordia. The xylem and bark tissues readily froze at -7 degrees C in A. firma and between -7 and -14 degrees C in P. densiflora. We conclude that NMR microscopy can noninvasively provide more spatially specific information about freezing behavior in leaf buds than traditional methods such as differential thermal analysis. In particular, it allows the organized and harmonized freezing behaviors in complex organs to be visualized directly thereby revealing the diversity of mechanisms involved in freezing behaviors.

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