University of Dundee

"Investigating the molecular basis of plant freezing tolerance"

Event Date: 
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - 11:00 to 12:00
Event Location: 
New Seminar Room James Hutton Institute Errol Road, Invergowrie, DD2 5DA
Dr Piers Hemsley
Event Speaker: 
Dr Heather Knight
Dept of Biosciences, Durham University
Event Type: 
All Welcome


Plants experience a wide variety of abiotic stresses as a consequence of the environment in which they grow. Freezing temperatures can cause severe damage to crops, placing limits on where and when they can be grown and resulting in significant yield losses. However, some plant species are capable of surviving these conditions, increasing their tolerance of freezing temperatures through a process called cold acclimation. During this preparatory period of low, non-freezing temperatures, a range of molecular, metabolic and physiological changes are orchestrated that afford such species protection against subsequent freezing damage. These changes include activation of hundreds of cold-responsive genes encoding protective proteins. Research in my group focuses on the model plant Arabidopsis, a species capable of cold acclimation, and is aimed identifying the genetic determinants of plant freezing tolerance with a view to improving crops in the longer term. We have identified a number of genes that through differing mechanisms control freezing tolerance. I will describe work showing that specific components of the mediator transcriptional coactivator complex control the expression of cold acclimation-associated genes and I will also present data that demonstrate a role for the cell wall in defence against frost and desiccation.