Genomics and Functional Genomics of Winter Low Temperature Tolerance in Temperate Fruit Crops

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Winter low temperature tolerance is the result of genotype interaction with environmental cues influencing plant development and metabolic activity in preparation for sustained low temperatures and freezing conditions. In deciduous fruit trees the phenology of acclimation and dormancy processes are well documented and recent advances in functional genomic analyses are beginning to map the molecular mechanisms underlying the physiological and biochemical responses resulting from inductive short photoperiod and/or low temperatures. There are many commonalities between herbaceous annual plant acclimation and perennial plant acclimation; however, the ability to survive sustained periods of low temperature, extreme low temperatures and the presence of ice within tissues are not common in annual model plant systems. In addition, subzero temperature tolerance mechanisms vary with tissue type and age and seasonal and climatic conditions; thus, defining the phenotypes and underlying genetic control of these dynamic and complex quantitative traits is both time and land intensive. Rapidly increasing genomic sequences and databases of transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomics data sets, coupled with existing mapping studies and new genotype by sequencing and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) marker analyses provide the opportunity to dissect winter survival and elucidate its genetic basis. This review explores recent genomic and functional genomic analyses that are contributing to a greater understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating low temperature response and freezing tolerance in temperate woody plants. Developments are providing the opportunity to more quickly and precisely link responses to genes and gene variations underlying low temperature response and tolerance in temperate fruit crops.

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Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences





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