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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement and Protection

Title: Genomics of cold hardiness in woody plants

item Wisniewski, Michael
item Nassuth, Annette
item Teulieres, Chantal
item Marque, Christiane
item Rowland, Lisa
item Cao, Phi Bang
item Brown, Alan

Submitted to: Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2013
Publication Date: 3/7/2014
Citation: Wisniewski, M.E., Nassuth, A., Teulieres, C., Marque, C., Rowland, L.J., Cao, P., Brown, A. 2014. Genomics of cold hardiness in woody plants. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences. 33:92-124.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The term cold hardiness or freezing tolerance is used to represent in a general sense the ability of plants to adapt to and withstand freezing temperatures. It is a complex, multigenic trait that is too often viewed as a single entity when in fact is composed of many aspects, all of which can be to some extent viewed as genetically distinct. Advances in molecular biology and genomics have provided significant advances in understanding how plants respond to low temperature and acquire freezing tolerance. Among the most important discoveries has been the identification of the CBF/DREB transcription factor. This transcription factor, along with its regulators such as ICE transcription factors, play a major role in sensing low temperature, initiating the process of cold acclimation, and inducing the expression of a large set of cold-regulated genes. These latter genes are presumed to ameliorate injury to plant cells as a result of freeze-induced desiccation and the presence of extracellular ice. The present review provides a comprehensive overview of CBF and ICE genes in a number of woody plants whose genomes have been sequenced and provides information on the attempts to identify genetic markers for use in marker-assisted selection (MAS) or improve cold hardiness using genetic transformation technologies. Functional studies of CBF genes in woody plants have indicated that their regulation and impact on abiotic stress resistance are more complex than in herbaceous plants. In particular, the possible relationship of CBF to dormancy is highlighted. Cold hardiness is a complex trait and the challenge in the future will be to use the molecular and genetic tools that are being developed, as well as new developments in bioinformatics, to integrate complex sets of data into a systems view of plant biology. This approach holds the best promise for developing the ability to significantly improve cold hardiness in economically important crops while still maintaining high levels of plant productivity and yield.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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