Light-quality regulation of freezing tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana

Nat Genet. 2007 Nov;39(11):1410-3. doi: 10.1038/ng.2007.3. Epub 2007 Oct 28.


To acquire freezing tolerance, higher plants require a period of low temperature (usually <4 degrees C) termed cold acclimation. Upon transfer of plants to low temperature, increased expression of the CRT/DRE binding factor (CBF) family of transcriptional activators leads to the upregulation of genes containing a C-repeat/drought-responsive (CRT/DRE) promoter element and metabolic changes that enhance tolerance to subzero temperatures. Here, we show that a low red to far-red ratio (R/FR) light signal increases CBF gene expression in Arabidopsis thaliana in a manner dependent on the circadian clock. This light quality-dependent increase in CBF expression is sufficient to confer freezing tolerance at temperatures higher than those required for cold acclimation. Furthermore, the use of light-quality signals to stimulate CBF expression has revealed ambient temperature-dependent coupling of CBF transcription factors to downstream COLD REGULATED (COR) genes, providing evidence for a second temperature-regulated step in this pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Cold Temperature*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology
  • Light*
  • Phytochrome B / genetics
  • Phytochrome B / metabolism
  • RNA, Plant / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • CBF1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • CBF2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • COR15 protein, Arabidopsis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • DREB1A protein, Arabidopsis
  • RNA, Plant
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Phytochrome B

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE8745