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Plant Biotechnol J. 2010 Sep;8(7):749-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2010.00536.x. Epub 2010 Jun 15.

Plant responses to cold: Transcriptome analysis of wheat.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.


Temperature and light are important environmental stimuli that have a profound influence on the growth and development of plants. Wheat varieties can be divided on the basis of whether they require an extended period of cold to flower (vernalization). Varieties that have a requirement for vernalization also tend to be winter hardy and are able to withstand quite extreme subzero temperatures. This capacity, however, is not constitutive and plants require a period of exposure to low, non-freezing temperatures to acquire freezing tolerance: this process is referred to as cold acclimation. Cold acclimation and the acquisition of freezing tolerance require the orchestration of many different, seemingly disparate physiological and biochemical changes. These changes are, at least in part, mediated through the differential expression of many genes. Some of these genes code for effector molecules that participate directly to alleviate stress. Others code for proteins involved in signal transduction or transcription factors that control the expression of further banks of genes. In this review, we provide an overview of some of the main features of cold acclimation with particular focus on transcriptome reprogramming. In doing so, we highlight some of the important differences between cold-hardy and cold-sensitive varieties. An understanding of these processes is of great potential importance because cold and freezing stress are major limiting factors for growing crop plants and periodically account for significant losses in plant productivity.

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