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Plant Physiol. 2003 Jun;132(2):893-906. Epub 2003 May 15.

Gene expression phenotypes of Arabidopsis associated with sensitivity to low temperatures.

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Torrey Mesa Research Institute, Syngenta Research and Technology, 3115 Merryfield Row, San Diego, California 92121, USA.


Chilling is a common abiotic stress that leads to economic losses in agriculture. By comparing the transcriptome of Arabidopsis under normal (22 degrees C) and chilling (13 degrees C) conditions, we have surveyed the molecular responses of a chilling-resistant plant to acclimate to a moderate reduction in temperature. The mRNA accumulation of approximately 20% of the approximately 8,000 genes analyzed was affected by chilling. In particular, a highly significant number of genes involved in protein biosynthesis displayed an increase in transcript abundance. We have analyzed the molecular phenotypes of 12 chilling-sensitive mutants exposed to 13 degrees C before any visible phenotype could be detected. The number and pattern of expression of chilling-responsive genes in the mutants were consistent with their final degree of chilling injury. The mRNA accumulation profiles for the chilling-lethal mutants chs1, chs2, and chs3 were highly similar and included extensive chilling-induced and mutant-specific alterations in gene expression. The expression pattern of the mutants upon chilling suggests that the normal function of the mutated loci prevents a damaging widespread effect of chilling on transcriptional regulation. In addition, we have identified 634 chilling-responsive genes with aberrant expression in all of the chilling-lethal mutants. This reference gene list, including genes related to lipid metabolism, chloroplast function, carbohydrate metabolism and free radical detoxification, represents a potential source for genes with a critical role in plant acclimation to suboptimal temperatures. The comparison of transcriptome profiles after transfer of Arabidopsis plants from 22 degrees C to 13 degrees C versus transfer to 4 degrees C suggests that quantitative and temporal differences exist between these molecular responses.

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