Cold acclimation in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) plays a crucial role in cold tolerance to harsh winters. To examine the cold acclimation mechanisms in freezing-tolerant alfalfa (ZD) and freezing-sensitive alfalfa (W5), holoproteins, and low-abundance proteins (after the removal of RuBisCO) from leaves were extracted to analyze differences at the protein level. A total of 84 spots were selected, and 67 spots were identified. Of these, the abundance of 49 spots and 24 spots in ZD and W5, respectively, were altered during adaptation to chilling stress. Proteomic results revealed that proteins involved in photosynthesis, protein metabolism, energy metabolism, stress and redox and other proteins were mobilized in adaptation to chilling stress. In ZD, a greater number of changes were observed in proteins, and autologous metabolism and biosynthesis were slowed in response to chilling stress, thereby reducing consumption, allowing for homeostasis. The capability for protein folding and protein biosynthesis in W5 was enhanced, which allows protection against chilling stress. The ability to perceive low temperatures was more sensitive in freezing-tolerant alfalfa compared to freezing-sensitive alfalfa. This proteomics study provides new insights into the cold acclimation mechanism in alfalfa.
Keywords: RuBisCO; alfalfa; cold acclimation; homeostasis; metabolism; proteomics.