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Plant Physiol. 1984 Aug;75(4):1139-51.

Behavior of the Plasma Membrane of Isolated Protoplasts during a Freeze-Thaw Cycle.

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Department of Agronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-0144.


Cryomicroscopy of protoplasts isolated from nonacclimated (NA) rye leaves (Secale cereale L. cv Puma) revealed that the predominant form of injury following cooling to the minimum temperature for 50% survival (LT(50)) (-5 degrees C) was expansion-induced lysis of the plasma membrane during warming and thawing of the suspending medium when the decreasing osmolality resulted in osmotic expansion of the protoplasts. When cooled to temperatures below the LT(50), the predominant form of injury was loss of osmotic responsiveness following cooling so that the protoplasts were osmotically inactive during warming. Only a low incidence (<10%) of expansion-induced lysis was observed in protoplasts isolated from acclimated (ACC) leaves, and the predominant form of injury following cooling to the LT(50) (-25 degrees C) was loss of osmotic responsiveness. The tolerable surface area increment (TSAI) which resulted in lysis of 50% of a population (TSAI(50)) of NA protoplasts osmotically expanded from isotonic solutions was 1122 +/- 172 square micrometers. Similar values were obtained when the protoplasts were osmotically expanded from hypertonic solutions. The TSAI determined from cryomicroscopic measurements of individual NA protoplasts was similar to the TSAI(50) values obtained from osmotic manipulation. The TSAI(50) of ACC protoplasts expanded from isotonic solutions (2145 +/- 235 square micrometers) was approximately double that of NA protoplasts and increased following osmotic contraction. Osmotic contractions were readily reversible upon return to isotonic solutions. During freeze-induced dehydration, endocytotic vesicles formed in NA protoplasts whereas exocytotic extrusions formed on the surface of ACC protoplasts. During osmotic expansion following thawing of the suspending medium, the endocytotic vesicles remained in the cytoplasm of NA protoplasts and the protoplasts lysed before their original volume and surface area were regained. In contrast, the exocytotic extrusions were drawn back into the surface of ACC protoplasts as the protoplasts regained their original volume and surface area.

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