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Plant Physiol. 2004 Dec;136(4):4299-307. Epub 2004 Nov 24.

Short-day potentiation of low temperature-induced gene expression of a C-repeat-binding factor-controlled gene during cold acclimation in silver birch.

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Division of Genetics, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Viikki Biocenter, University of Helsinki, FIN-00014 Helsinki, Finland.


Development of winter hardiness in trees is a two-stage process involving sequential perception of distinct environmental cues, short-day (SD) photoperiod and low temperature (LT). We have shown that both SD and LT are recognized by leaves of silver birch (Betula pendula cv Roth) leading to increased freezing tolerance, and thus leaves can be used as an experimental model to study the physiological and molecular events taking place during cold acclimation. To obtain a molecular marker for the acclimation process in birch we cloned a gene, designated Bplti36, encoding a 36-kD acidic SK2 type of dehydrin. The gene was responsive to LT, drought, salt, and exogenous abscisic acid. This responsiveness to abiotic stresses and abscisic acid was retained when Bplti36 was introduced to Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). The LT induction of the gene appeared to be under the control of the C-repeat-binding factor pathway as suggested by the presence of several C-repeat/dehydration-responsive element/LT-responsive elements in the Bplti36 promoter and its constitutive expression in C-repeat-binding factor overproducing Arabidopsis. In birch SD photoperiod at normal-growth temperature did not result in significant induction of Bplti36. However, preexposure to SD followed by LT treatment resulted in a remarkable increase in Bplti36 transcript accumulation as compared to LT-treated plants grown at long-day photoperiod. This suggests that SD photoperiod potentiates the LT response by conditioning the leaf tissue to be more responsive to the LT stimulus.

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