Responses of the Plant Cell Wall to Sub-Zero Temperatures: A Brief Update
[Review of ]. PLANT AND CELL PHYSIOLOGY, 62(12), 1858–1866.
Our general understanding of plant responses to sub-zero temperatures focuses on mechanisms that mitigate stress to the plasma membrane. The plant cell wall receives comparatively less attention, and questions surrounding its role in mitigating freezing injury remain unresolved. Despite recent molecular discoveries that provide insight into acclimation responses, the goal of reducing freezing injury in herbaceous and woody crops remains elusive. This is likely due to the complexity associated with adaptations to low temperatures. Understanding how leaf cell walls of herbaceous annuals promote tissue tolerance to ice does not necessarily lead to understanding how meristematic tissues are protected from freezing by tissue-level barriers formed by cell walls in overwintering tree buds. In this mini-review, we provide an overview of biological ice nucleation and explain how plants control the spatiotemporal location of ice formation. We discuss how sugars and pectin side chains alleviate adhesive injury that develops at sub-zero temperatures between the matrix polysaccharides and ice. The importance of site-specific cell-wall elasticity to promote tissue expansion for ice accommodation and control of porosity to impede ice growth and promote supercooling will be presented. How specific cold-induced proteins modify plant cell walls to mitigate freezing injury will also be discussed. The opinions presented in this report emphasize the importance of a plant's developmental physiology when characterizing mechanisms of freezing survival.