The role of raffinose in the cold acclimation response of Arabidopsis thaliana

FEBS Lett. 2004 Oct 8;576(1-2):169-73. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2004.09.006.


In many plants raffinose family oligosaccharides are accumulated during cold acclimation. The contribution of raffinose accumulation to freezing tolerance is not clear. Here, we investigated whether synthesis of raffinose is an essential component for acquiring frost tolerance. We created transgenic lines of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions Columbia-0 and Cape Verde Islands constitutively overexpressing a galactinol synthase (GS) gene from cucumber. GS overexpressing lines contained up to 20 times as much raffinose as the respective wild-type under non-acclimated conditions and up to 2.3 times more after 14 days of cold acclimation at 4 degrees C. Furthermore, we used a mutant carrying a knockout of the endogenous raffinose synthase (RS) gene. Raffinose was completely absent in this mutant. However, neither the freezing tolerance of non-acclimated leaves, nor their ability to cold acclimate were influenced in the RS mutant or in the GS overexpressing lines. We conclude that raffinose is not essential for basic freezing tolerance or for cold acclimation of A. thaliana.

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / genetics*
  • Acclimatization / physiology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Galactosyltransferases / genetics
  • Galactosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Plant
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / physiology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Raffinose / metabolism*


  • Galactosyltransferases
  • inositol 1-alpha-galactosyltransferase
  • raffinose synthase
  • Raffinose