Water and Life pp 316-337 | Cite as

Freeze-Thaw Injury and Cryoprotection of Thylakoid Membranes

  • D. K. Hincha
  • J. M. Schmitt


Freeze-thaw injury to plants is a highly complex process. While there is a good understanding of the physics and chemistry associated with the freezing of aqueous solutions (Franks 1981) the physiology and biochemistry of the freezing of whole plants or organs are poorly understood. Cells in plant tissues are, unlike animal cells, encased by a rigid cell wall. Leaf tissue contains large air-filled intercellular spaces (Fig. la,c). When a leaf is slowly frozen, ice crystallizes first in the dilute apoplastic (extracellular) solution (Beck et al. 1984; Pearce and Willison 1985). Since the water potential of ice is lower at the same temperature than that of liquid water, cellular water diffuses from the cells to the extracellular ice crystals (Olien and Smith 1981). The cells are thereby dehydrated, until an equilibrium is reached. During thawing, the water potential gradients are reversed and water diffuses back to the cells, provided that the plasmamembrane has not been injured.


Thylakoid Membrane Cold Acclimation Freezing Tolerance Plant Cell Environ Glycine Betaine 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. K. Hincha
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. M. Schmitt
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Pflanzenphysiologie und MikrobiologieFreie UniversitätBerlin 33Germany
  2. 2.Institut für Botanik und Pharmazeutische BiologieUniversität WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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