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Keywords:

  • Antifreeze protein;
  • chitinase;
  • chromosome substitution lines;
  • cold acclimation;
  • disease resistance;
  • freezing tolerance;
  • glucanase;
  • pathogenesis-related protein;
  • Secale cereale;
  • thaumatin-like protein;
  • winter rye;
  • winter wheat

Six antifreeze proteins, which have the unique ability to adsorb onto the surface of ice and inhibit its growth, have been isolated from the apoplast of winter rye leaves where ice forms at subzero temperatures. The rye antifreeze proteins accumulate during cold acclimation and are similar to plant pathogenesis-related proteins, including two endoglucanase-like, two chitinase-like and two thaumatin-like proteins. Immunolocalization of the glucanase-like antifreeze proteins showed that they accumulate in mesophyll cell walls facing intercellular spaces, in pectinaceous regions between adjoining mestome sheath cells, in the secondary cell walls of xylem vessels and in epidermal cell walls. Because the rye antifreeze proteins are located in areas where they could be in contact with ice, they may function as a barrier to the propagation of ice or to inhibit the recrystallization of ice. Antifreeze proteins similar to pathogenesis-related proteins were also found to accumulate in closely-related plants within the Triticum group but not in freezing-tolerant dicotyledonous plants. In winter wheat, the accumulation of antifreeze proteins and the development of freezing tolerance are regulated by chromosome 5. Rye antifreeze proteins may have evolved from pathogenesis-related proteins, but they retain their catalytic activities and may play a dual role in increasing both freezing and disease resistance in overwintering plants.