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Are Pectins Involved in Cold Acclimation and De-acclimation of Winter Oil-seed Rape Plants?

Solecka, Danuta, Żebrowski, Jacek, Kacperska, Alina
Annals of botany 2008 v.101 no.4 pp. 521-530
Brassica napus var. napus, Leptosphaeria maculans, acclimation, cell walls, cold, esterification, fungi, genotype, leaves, methylation, overwintering, pectinesterase, pectins, tensile strength
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The hypothesis was tested that pectin content and methylation degree participate in regulation of cell wall mechanical properties and in this way may affect tissue growth and freezing resistance over the course of plant cold acclimation and de-acclimation. METHODS: Experiments were carried on the leaves of two double-haploid lines of winter oil-seed rape (Brassica napus subsp. oleifera), differing in winter survival and resistance to blackleg fungus (Leptosphaeria maculans). KEY RESULTS: Plant acclimation in the cold (2 °C) brought about retardation of leaf expansion, concomitant with development of freezing resistance. These effects were associated with the increases in leaf tensile stiffness, cell wall and pectin contents, pectin methylesterase (EC 3·1·1·11) activity and the low-methylated pectin content, independently of the genotype studied. However, the cold-induced modifications in the cell wall properties were more pronounced in the leaves of the more pathogen-resistant genotype. De-acclimation promoted leaf expansion and reversed most of the cold-induced effects, with the exception of pectin methylesterase activity. CONCLUSIONS: The results show that the temperature-dependent modifications in pectin content and their methyl esterification degree correlate with changes in tensile strength of a leaf tissue, and in this way affect leaf expansion ability and its resistance to freezing and to fungus pathogens.