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Ice nucleation in stems of trees and shrubs with different frost resistance

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AbstractIn this study, the ice nucleation activity (INA) and ice nucleation temperature (INT) as well as extracellular ice formation within the bark were determined for three woody species with different degrees of frost resistance, Betula nana, Betula albosinensis and Castanea sativa. Current-year stems and at least 2-year old stems of B. nana and C. sativa as well as current-year stems of B. albosinensis were compared, during summer (non-acclimated state) and winter (acclimated state), to evaluate possible ontogenetic and seasonal differences. Acclimated plant parts of the selected species revealed nearly similar results, with an INT from -7.52 to -8.43°C. The current-year stems of B. nana had a somewhat higher INT than the older stems. Microscopic analysis showed that extra-cellular ice formation occurred in the intercellular spaces within the bark of stems of B. nana, B. albosinensis and C. sativa. Size of the intercellular spaces of the bark were species-specific, and B. nana showed the largest intercellular space volume. While freezing behavior and extracellular ice formation thus followed principally the same pattern in all considered species, B. nana is obviously capable of dealing with large masses of extracellular ice which accumulate over extended periods of frost, making B. nana capable of protecting living tissue in colder regions from freezing damage.

Affiliations: 1: State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart, Rosenstein 1, 70191 Stuttgart, Germany


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