PerspectivePlant Science

Saving the Bilayer

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Science  08 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6001, pp. 185-186
DOI: 10.1126/science.1196737

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Summary

During the cool, shortening days of fall, plants of the high latitudes prepare for winter survival through a process of cold acclimation. For the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, cold acclimation improves freezing tolerance from −5° to −12°C. Other plant species can survive considerably lower temperatures (1), but it is believed that the underlying biochemical processes are similar. This means that discoveries made in Arabidopsis are generally valuable for understanding and improving the freezing tolerance of plants. On page 226 of this issue (2), Moellering et al. provide a satisfying explanation for an enzyme and a process that are absolutely essential for plants to survive freezing.