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Plant Methods. 2014 Mar 10;10(1):7. doi: 10.1186/1746-4811-10-7.

Phenotypic analysis of the Arabidopsis heat stress response during germination and early seedling development.

Author information

Center for Biodiversity, Functional & Integrative Genomics (BioFIG), Plant Functional Biology Center, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal.
Present address: 3B's Research Group - Biomaterials, Biodegradables and Biomimetics, University of Minho Headquarters of the European Institute of Excellence on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, AvePark, 4806-909 Guimarães, Taipas, Portugal.
Present address: CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade do Porto, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal.
Contributed equally



Phenotypic characterization of Arabidopsis thaliana gain- and loss-of-function mutants is a delicate and meticulous task that often involves the analysis of multiple parameters. Arabidopsis heat tolerance has been evaluated based on direct assessments that include seed germination, seedling survival, hypocotyl and root elongation, or indirect measurements such as chlorophyll content or ion leakage.


In an attempt to simplify the detection of heat stress-associated phenotypes, a collection of protocols for analysis of seed germination and seedling survival to heat treatment is proposed. Temperatures and lengths of heat treatments were combined into several heat tolerance assays, to be used as a primary approach for the search and characterization of basal and acquired heat tolerance-associated phenotypes at early developmental stages. The usefulness of this methodology was illustrated through the characterization of heat-related phenotypes in different Arabidopsis ecotypes as well as in gain- and loss-of-function mutants.


The use of standardized experimental protocols designed to detect temperature-related phenotypes is proposed. The suggested plate-based assays provide an appropriate framework of experimental conditions for detection of variability amongst natural accessions or mutants lines. Functional studies could be facilitated by using this inexpensive and undemanding approach.

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