Metabolic and Hormonal Responses of Plants to Cold Stress

  • Joanna Lado
  • Matías Manzi


The adaptation and survival of plants in challenging environments involves changes at cellular and molecular levels. Plants inherently possess sophisticated mechanisms to timely perceive environmental stimuli and respond accordingly. Temperature and water availability are the major environmental factors that significantly influence geographical distribution of plants. In particular, cold acclimation includes structural and morphological modifications, changes in cell membrane composition and the accumulation of compatible solutes among others cryoprotective compounds. In order to survive in such non-optimal conditions, plants have developed complex mechanisms to perceive external signals and trigger crucial responses. These phenomena are mediated by complex phytohormone networks that are also involved in the adaptation to other abiotic and biotic stresses. Through hormonal signaling, cold stress modifies biomass and bioactive compounds accumulation in medicinal plants, both of special interest regarding their biological activity and therefore, their pharmacological potential. In this chapter we review the latest information regarding cold signaling in plants, phytohormones and how integrated crosstalk underpins cold tolerance together with a special mention of cold effect on bioactive compounds accumulation, with emphasis in medicinal and aromatical plants.


Abscisic acid Bioactive compounds Brassinosteroids Chilling Ethylene Jasmonic acid Salycilic acid 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto Nacional de Investigación Agropecuaria (INIA)SaltoUruguay
  2. 2.Fertilidad de Suelos, Departamento de Suelos y Aguas, Facultad de AgronomíaUniversidad de la RepúblicaSaltoUruguay

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