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Research article2002Peer reviewedOpen access

Independent activation of cold acclimation by low temperature and short photoperiod in hybrid aspen

Welling, Annikki; Moritz, Thomas; Palva, E. Tapio; Junttila, Olavi


Temperate zone woody plants cold acclimate in response to both short daylength (SD) and low temperature (LT). We were able to show that these two environmental cues induce cold acclimation independently by comparing the wild type (WT) and the transgenic hybrid aspen (Populus tremula X Populus tremuloides Michx.) line 22 overexpressing the oat (Avena saliva) PHYTOCHROME A gene. Line 22 was not able to detect the SD and, consequently, did not stop growing in SD conditions. This resulted in an impaired freezing tolerance development under SD. In contrast, exposure to LT resulted in cold acclimation of line 22 to a degree comparable with the WT. In contrast to the WT, line 22 could not dehydrate the overwintering tissues or induce the production of dehydrins (DHN) under SD conditions. Furthermore, abscisic acid (ABA) content of the buds of line 22 were the same under SD and long daylength, whereas prolonged SD exposure decreased the ABA level in the WT. LT exposure resulted in a rapid accumulation of DHN in both the WT and line 22. Similarly, ABA content increased transiently in both the WT and line 22. Our results indicate that phytochrome A is involved in photoperiodic regulation of ABA and DHN levels, but at LT they are regulated by a different mechanism. Although SD and LT induce cold acclimation independently, ABA and DHN may play important roles in both modes of acclimation.

Published in

Plant Physiology
2002, Volume: 129, number: 4, pages: 1633-1641

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