Exogenous abscisic acid enhances physiological, metabolic, and transcriptional cold acclimation responses in greenhouse-grown grapevines

Plant Sci. 2020 Apr:293:110437. doi: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2020.110437. Epub 2020 Feb 4.


Previous studies have demonstrated that the freezing tolerance (FT) of grapevine was enhanced by foliar application of exogenous abscisic acid (exo-ABA), a treatment which might be incorporated into cultural practices to mitigate cold damage in vineyards. To investigate the underlying mechanisms of this response, a two-year (2017 and 2018) study was conducted to characterize the effects of exo-ABA on greenhouse-grown 'Cabernet franc' grapevine. In control grapevines, both physiological (deeper dormancy) and biochemical (sugar accumulation in buds) changes occurred, indicating that grapevines initiated cold acclimation in the greenhouse. Compared to control, exo-ABA decreased stomatal conductance 2 h after application. Two weeks post application, exo-ABA treated grapevines showed accelerated transition of grapevine physiology during cold acclimation (increased depth of dormancy, decreased bud water content and enhanced bud FT), relative to control. Exo-ABA induced the accumulation of several sugars in buds including the raffinose family oligosaccharides (RFOs), and the RFO precursor, galactinol. The expression of raffinose and galactinol synthase genes was higher in exo-ABA treated grapevine buds, compared to control. The new findings from this study have advanced our understanding of the role of ABA in grapevine FT, which will be useful to develop future strategies to protect grapevines from cold damage.

Keywords: Abscisic acid; Cold acclimation; Freezing tolerance; Raffinose family oligosaccharides; Vitis vinifera.

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / metabolism*
  • Acclimatization / genetics
  • Acclimatization / physiology*
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Freezing
  • Galactosyltransferases / genetics
  • Galactosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plant Stomata / metabolism
  • Raffinose / metabolism
  • Sugars / metabolism
  • Vitis / genetics
  • Vitis / metabolism*
  • Water / metabolism


  • Plant Proteins
  • Sugars
  • Water
  • Abscisic Acid
  • Galactosyltransferases
  • inositol 1-alpha-galactosyltransferase
  • raffinose synthase
  • Raffinose