Low temperature sensors in plants: Hypotheses and assumptions
The mechanisms of plant responses to short-term cold treatments applied daily in the period of active growth remain unknown. Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) plants were subjected to brief drops of temperature (2 h, 12°C) at the end of each night over a 6-day period (DROP treatment) and to prolonged (6 days) cooling at 12°C (permanent low-temperature treatment, PLT). The plants exposed to cold treatments and control plants grown at 20°C were compared in terms of cold resistance and changes in gene expression. Cold resistance of plants was determined on the basis of LT50 temperature. The response of cucumber genetic machinery was assessed by means of a differential display method based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The changes in mRNA pool in cells of cucumber plants subjected to permanent and periodic chilling were assessed after comparing the populations of PCR fragments of cDNA. In both types of chilling protocols, the cold resistance started to increase from the 2nd day of low temperature treatment. At the end of the experiment (on the 6th day), the increment in cold resistance was three times larger for DROP compared to PLT treatment. Analysis of mRNA pool showed that the numbers of amplified fragments were nearly identical in both types of low-temperature treatment. The higher level of cold resistance under DROP conditions was assumed to depend on features of metabolism.