Molecular Biology and Genetics

Plant Biotechnology

Electronic Journal of Biotechnology ISSN: 0717-3458 Vol. 12 No. 3, Issue of July 15, 2009
© 2009 by Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso -- Chile Received December 5, 2008 / Accepted March 28, 2009
DOI: 10.2225/vol12-issue3-fulltext-2

Cold resistance in plants: A mystery unresolved

Nishawar Jan
Department of Biotechnology
The University of Kashmir
1900 06 (J and K), India

Department of Biotechnology
The University of Kashmir
1900 06 (J and K), India

Khurshid I. Andrabi*
Department of Biotechnology
New Science Block, Ground Floor
The University of Kashmir
190006, Srinagar (J and K), India
fax: 9 11 942 428 723

*Corresponding author

Financial Support: Fellowship grant from University Grants Commission, India, for Nishawar Jan.

Keywords: cold acclimation, cold resistance, CORs (cold regulated).


COR: cold-regulated
COS: cold standard set
CSP: cold shock proteins
DREB: dehydratation responsive element-binding factors
LEA: late embryogenesis abundant
MYB: myeloblastosis
MYBRS: MYB recognition elements
RING: really Interesting new gene
SUMO: small ubiquitin-related modifier

Abstract   Full Text

Herbaceous temperate plants are capable of developing freezing tolerance when they are exposed to low nonfreezing temperatures. Acquired freezing tolerance involves extensive reprogramming of gene expression and metabolism. Recent full-genome transcript profiling studies, in combination with mutational and transgenic plant analyses, have provided a snapshot of the complex transcriptional network that operates under cold stress. The changes in expression of hundreds of genes in response to cold temperatures are followed by increases in the levels of hundreds of metabolites, some of which are known to have protective effects against the damaging effects of cold stress. Genetic analysis has revealed important roles for cellular metabolic signals, and for RNA splicing, export and secondary structure unwinding, in regulating cold-responsive gene expression and chilling and freezing tolerance. These results along with many of the others summarized here further our understanding of the basic mechanisms that plants have evolved to survive freezing temperatures. In addition, the findings have potential practical applications, as freezing temperatures are a major factor limiting the geographical locations suitable for growing crop and horticultural plants and periodically account for significant losses in plant productivity. Although, great progress has been made in the field but lacunae still remain since it appears that the cold resistance is more complex than perceived and involves more than one pathway.

Supported by UNESCO / MIRCEN network