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Plant J. 2007 Jul;51(2):308-21. Epub 2007 Jun 8.

Expression levels of barley Cbf genes at the Frost resistance-H2 locus are dependent upon alleles at Fr-H1 and Fr-H2.

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Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, Ohio State University/OARDC, Wooster, OH 44691, USA.


Genetic analyses have identified two loci in wheat and barley that mediate the capacity to overwinter in temperate climates. One locus co-segregates with VRN-1, which affects the vernalization requirement. This locus is known as Frost resistance-1 (Fr-1). The second locus, Fr-2, is coincident with a cluster of more than 12 Cbf genes. Cbf homologs in Arabidopsis thaliana play a key regulatory role in cold acclimatization and the acquisition of freezing tolerance. Here we report that the Hordeum vulgare (barley) locus VRN-H1/Fr-H1 affects expression of multiple barley Cbf genes at Fr-H2. RNA blot analyses, conducted on a 'Nure'x'Tremois' barley mapping population segregating for VRN-H1/Fr-H1 and Fr-H2, revealed that transcript levels of all cold-induced Cbf genes at Fr-H2 were significantly higher in recombinants harboring the vrn-H1 winter allele than in recombinants harboring the Vrn-H1 spring allele. Steady-state Cbf2 and Cbf4 levels were also significantly higher in recombinants harboring the Nure allele at Fr-H2. Additional experiments indicated that, in vrn-H1 genotypes requiring vernalization, Cbf expression levels were dampened after plants were vernalized, and dampened Cbf expression was accompanied by robust expression of Vrn-1. Cbf levels were also significantly higher in plants grown under short days than under long days. Experiments in wheat and rye indicated that similar regulatory mechanisms occurred in these plants. These results suggest that VRN-H1/Fr-H1 acts in part to repress or attenuate expression of the Cbf at Fr-H2; and that the greater level of low temperature tolerance attributable to the Nure Fr-H2 allele may be due to the greater accumulation of Cbf2 and Cbf4 transcripts during normal growth and development.

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