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J Plant Physiol. 2003 May;160(5):475-83.

Abscisic acid-induced freezing tolerance in the moss Physcomitrella patens is accompanied by increased expression of stress-related genes.

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  • 1Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0819, Japan.


Abscisic acid (ABA)-induced genes are implicated in the development of freezing tolerance during cold acclimation in higher plants, but their roles in lower land plants have not been determined. We examined ABA- and cold-induced changes in freezing tolerance and gene expression in the moss Physcomitrella patens. Slow equilibrium freezing to -4 degrees C of P. patens protonemata grown under normal growth conditions killed more than 90% of the cells, indicating that the protonema cells are freezing-sensitive. ABA treatment for 24 h dramatically increased the freezing tolerance of the protonemata, while cold treatment only slightly increased the freezing tolerance within the same period. We examined the expressions of fourteen Physcomitrella patens ABA-responsive genes (PPARs), isolated from ABA-treated protonemata. ABA treatment resulted in a remarkable increase in the expression of all the PPAR genes within 24 h. Several of the PPAR genes (PPAR 1 to 8, and 14) were also responsive to cold, but the response was much slower than that to ABA. Treatment with hyperosmotic concentrations of NaCl and mannitol increased freezing tolerance of protonemata and also increased the expression levels of eleven PPAR genes (PPAR2, 3, 5 to 8, and 10 to 14). These results suggest that ABA and environmental stresses positively affect the expression of common genes that participate in protection of protonema cells leading to the development of freezing tolerance.

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