PloS one

Genes Upregulated in Winter Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) during Mild Freezing and Subsequent Thawing Suggest Sequential Activation of Multiple Response Mechanisms.

PMID 26173115


Exposing fully cold-acclimated wheat plants to a mild freeze-thaw cycle of -3 °C for 24h followed by +3 °C for 24 or 48 h results in dramatically improved tolerance of subsequent exposure to sub-freezing temperatures. Gene enrichment analysis of crown tissue from plants collected before or after the -3 °C freeze or after thawing at +3 °C for 24 or 48 h revealed that many biological processes and molecular functions were activated during the freeze-thaw cycle in an increasing cascade of responses such that over 150 processes or functions were significantly enhanced by the end of the 48 h, post-freeze thaw. Nearly 2,000 individual genes were upregulated more than 2-fold over the 72 h course of freezing and thawing, but more than 70% of these genes were upregulated during only one of the time periods examined, suggesting a series of genes and gene functions were involved in activation of the processes that led to enhanced freezing tolerance. This series of functions appeared to include extensive cell signaling, activation of stress response mechanisms and the phenylpropanoid biosynthetic pathway, extensive modification of secondary metabolites, and physical restructuring of cell membranes. By identifying plant lines that are especially able to activate these multiple mechanisms it may be possible to develop lines with enhanced winterhardiness.