Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 21–41

Freeze/thaw-induced destabilization of the plasma membrane and the effects of cold acclimation

  • Peter L. Steponkus
  • Daniel V. Lynch

DOI: 10.1007/BF00762210

Cite this article as:
Steponkus, P.L. & Lynch, D.V. J Bioenerg Biomembr (1989) 21: 21. doi:10.1007/BF00762210


Disruption of the plasma membrane is a primary cause of freezing injury. In this review, the mechanisms of injury resulting from freeze-induced cell dehydration are presented, including destabilization of the plasma membrane resulting from (a) freeze/thaw-induced osmotic excursions and (b) lyotropic phase transitions in the plasma membrane lipids. Cold acclimation dramatically alters the behavior of the plasma membrane during a freeze/thaw cycle—increasing the tolerance to osmotic excursions and decreasing the propensity for dehydration-induced lamellar to hexagonal-II phase transitions. Evidence for a casual relationship between the increased cryostability of the plasma membrane and alterations in the lipid composition is reviewed.

Key Words

Plasma membrane freezing injury cold acclimation lipids mesomorphic phase behavior dehydration liposomes isolated protoplasts 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter L. Steponkus
    • 1
  • Daniel V. Lynch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AgronomyCornell UniversityIthaca

Personalised recommendations