A Comparison of the Cold Hardiness Potential of Spring Cereals and Vernalized and Non-Vernalized Winter Cereals

  • R. W. Wilen
  • P. Fu
  • A. J. Robertson
  • L. V. Gusta


Both spring and winter cereals cold acclimate in response to low temperatures, however the level of freezing tolerance attained is dramatically different. Winter rye and winter wheat seedlings have the genetic potential to cold acclimate to −30°C and −25°C, respectively. In contrast spring cereal seedlings can only cold acclimate from −7 to −9°C. Genetically winter and spring cereals are similar except winter cereals must be vernalized to initiate the reproductive cycle. A strong association has been established between the degree of vernalization and the degree of freezing tolerance that can be achieved in cereal seedlings. The freezing tolerance, water potential and expression of dehydrin transcripts of seedlings of spring, non-vernalized and vernalized winter cereals was determined using both controlled environment chambers and natural conditions. Winter cereal seedlings rapidly acclimate in response to environmental cues whereas temperatures approaching 0°C are required to induce freezing tolerance in spring cereal seedlings. In contrast to non vernalized seedlings, vernalized seedlings of Puma rye and Norstar winter wheat only acclimate to the same level as spring cereals (−7 to −9°C). The water potential of non vernalized winter cereal seedlings rapidly decreases within 12 hours of exposure to hardening conditions. In contrast, there is little or no decrease in the water potential in spring and vernalized winter cereal seedlings. During the acclimation period, crown moisture content decreased in both vernalized and non vernalized winter seedlings and in spring seedlings, however the largest decrease occurred in the non vernalized seedlings. Northern analysis revealed significant accumulation of dehydrin transcripts in non vernalized seedlings, however there was only a transient increase in transcripts in the spring cereal seedlings. Little or no expression of dehydrin transcripts was detected in vernalized seedlings exposed to hardening conditions. In summary, non vernalized winter cereal seedlings have the ability to decrease their water potential and accumulate dehydrins upon exposure to cold hardening conditions. In contrast, vernalized winter cereal seedlings respond similar to spring cereal seedlings when exposed to low temperature hardening conditions.


Cold Acclimation Leaf Water Potential Freezing Tolerance Cold Hardiness Vernalization Requirement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arora R, Wisniewski ME (1994) Cold acclimation in genetically related (sibling) deciduous and evergreen peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch) II. a 60-kilodalton protein in cold-acclimated tissues of peach is heat stable and related to the dehydrin family of proteins. Plant Physiol. 105: 95–101PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker J, Steele C, Dure L III (1989) Sequence and characterization of 6 Lea proteins and their genes from cotton. Plant Mol. Biol. 11: 277–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Charest C, Phan CT (1990) Cold acclimation of wheat (Triticum aestivum): properties of enzymes involved in proline metabolism. Physiol. Plant 80: 159–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Close TJ, Kortt AA, Chandler PM (1989a) cDNA based comparison of dehydration-induced proteins (dehy-drins) in barley and corn. Plant Mol. Biol. 13: 95–108.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Close TJ, Lammer PJ (1993) An osmotic stress of Cyanobacteria is immunologically related to plant dehydrins. Plant Physiol. 101:773–779.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fu P (1995) Ph.D. Thesis. Changes in physiology and gene expression during cold acclimation of spring and winter cereals. University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.Google Scholar
  7. Fu P, Robertson AJ, Weninger A, Wilen RW, O’Conner BJ, Gusta LV (1994) Differential expression of dehydrins in spring and winter cereals during cold acclimation. Plant Physiol. 105S: 169.Google Scholar
  8. Fu P, Wilen RW, Robertson AJ, Gusta LV (1996) Differences in water status and dehydration-responsive gene expression in field grown spring and winter cereals. Plant Physiol. 111S: 75.Google Scholar
  9. Houde M, Danyluk J, Laliberte JF, Rassant EE, Dhindas RS, Sarhan F (1992a) Cloning, characterization and expression of a cDNA encoding a 50-kD protein specifically induced by cold acclimation. Plant Physiol 99: 1381–1387.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Houde M, Dhindsa RS, Sarhan F (1992b) A molecular marker to select for freezing tolerance in Gramineae. Mol. Gen. Genet. 234: 43–48.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Jacobsen JV, Shaw DC (1989) Heat-stable proteins and abscisic acid in barley aleurone cells. Plant Physiol. 91: 1520–1526.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kazouka T, Oeda K (1992) Heat-stable COR (cold-regulated) proteins associated with freezing tolerance in spinach. Plant Cell Physiol. 33: 1107–1114.Google Scholar
  13. Lang V, Mantyla E, Welin B, Sundberg B, Palva ET (1994) Alterations in water status, endogenous abscisic acid content, and expression of rab18 gene during the development of freezing tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiol. 104: 1341–1349.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Muthalif MM, Rowland LJ (1994) Identification of dehydrin-like proteins responsive to chilling in floral buds of blueberry (Vaccinium section Cyanococcus). Plant Physiol. 104: 1439–1447.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ouellet F, Houde M, Sarhan F (1993) Purification, characterization and cDNA cloning of the 200 kDa protein induced by cold acclimation in wheat. Plant Cell Physiol. 34: 59–65.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Perras M, Sarhan F (1989) Synthesis of freezing tolerance proteins in leaves crowns, and roots during cold acclimation of wheat. Plant Physiol. 89: 577–585.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Robertson AJ, Ishikawa M, Gusta LV, MacKensie SL (1994a) Abscisic acid-induced heat tolerance in Bromus inermis Leyss cell-suspension cultures. Heat-stable, abscisic acid responsive polypeptides in combination with sucrose confer enhanced thermostability. Plant Physiol. 105: 181–190.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Robertson AJ, Weninger A, Wilen RW, Fu P, Gusta LV (1994b) Comparison of dehydrin gene expression and freezing tolerance in Bromus inermis and Secale cereale grown in controlled environments, hydroponics and the field. Plant Physiol. 106: 1213–1217.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Volger HG, Heber V (1975) Cryoprotective leaf proteins. Biochem. Biophys. Acta 412: 335–349.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. W. Wilen
    • 1
  • P. Fu
    • 2
  • A. J. Robertson
    • 1
  • L. V. Gusta
    • 1
  1. 1.Crop Development CentreUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Agriculture CanadaSaskatoonCanada

Personalised recommendations