The effect of light on gene expression and hormonal status during the development of freezing tolerance was studied in winter wheat (Triticum aestivum var. Mv Emese) and in the spring wheat variety Nadro. Ten-day-old plants (3-leaf stage) were cold hardened at 5°C for 12 days under either normal (250 µmol m(-2) s(-1) ) or low (20 µmol m(-2) s(-1) ) light conditions. Comprehensive analysis was carried out to explore the background of frost tolerance and the differences between these wheat varieties. Global genome analysis was performed, enquiring about the details of the cold signaling pathways. The expression level of a large number of genes is affected by light, and this effect may differ in different wheat genotypes. Photosynthesis-related processes probably play a key role in the enhancement of freezing tolerance; however, there are several other genes whose induction is light-dependent, so either there is cross-talk between signaling of chloroplast originating and other protective mechanisms or there are other light sensors that transduce signals to the components responsible for stress tolerance. Changes in the level of both plant hormones (indole-3-acetic acid, cytokinins, nitric oxide and ethylene precursor 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid) and other stress-related protective substances (proline, phenolics) were investigated during the phases of the hardening period. Hormonal levels were also affected by light and their dynamics indicate that wheat plants try to keep growing during the cold-hardening period. The data from this experiment may provide a new insight into the cross talk between cold and light signaling in wheat.
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