Ruelland E, Vaultier M-N, Zachowski A, Hurry V
Cold signalling and cold acclimation in plants
Advances in Botanical Research: 2009 49:35-150

Exposure to low temperatures is one of the most important plant abiotic stress factors. In this review we describe the damages that chilling and/or freezing temperatures can cause to plant cells. Confronted to these damages, some plants are able to adapt through mechanisms based on protein synthesis, membrane composition changes, and activation of active oxygen scavenging systems. These adaptive mechanisms rely in part on gene induction. The best understood genetic pathway leading to gene induction upon a temperature downshift is based on C-repeat-binding factors (CBF) activating promoters through the C-repeat (CRT) cis-element. Such activation of transcription factors suggests that cold, as a signal, has been transduced into the cells. Calcium entry is a major signalling event occurring immediately after a temperature downshift. The increase in cytosolic calcium will activate many enzymes, such as phospholipases and calcium dependent-protein kinases. A MAP-kinase module has been shown to be involved in the cold response. Ultimately, the activation of those signalling pathways leads to changes to the transcriptome. In this review we have focused on the genetic and signalling pathways activated early after cold exposure. Much of the data cited is from the model plant Arabidopsis but when possible evidence from other plants is presented.

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