, Volume 162, Issue 3, pp 276–282 | Cite as

Equilibrium freezing of leaf water and extracellular ice formation in Afroalpine ‘giant rosette’ plants

  • Erwin Beck
  • Ernst-Detlef Schulze
  • Margot Senser
  • Renate Scheibe


The water potentials of frozen leaves of Afroalpine plants were measured psychrometrically in the field. Comparison of these potentials with the osmotic potentials of an expressed cellular sap and the water potentials of ice indicated almost ideal freezing behaviour and suggested equilibrium freezing. On the basis of the osmotic potentials of expressed cellular sap, the fractions of frozen cellular water which correspond to the measured water potentials of the frozen leaves could be determined (e.g. 74% at -3.0° C). The freezing points of leaves were found to be in the range between 0° C and -0.5° C, rendering evidence for freezing of almost pure water and thus confirming the conclusions drawn from the water-potential measurements. The leaves proved to be frost resistant down to temperatures between -5° C and -15° C, as depending on the species. They tolerated short supercooling periods which were necessary in order to start ice nucleation. Extracellular ice caps and ice crystals in the intercellular space were observed when cross sections of frozen leaves were investigated microscopically at subfreezing temperatures.

Key words

Equilibrium freezing Freezing tolerance Leaf (water potential) Rosette plant (Afroalpine) Water potential 





water potential


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, J.A., Gusta, L.V., Buchanan, D.W., Burke, M.J. (1983) Freezing of water in Citrus leaves. J. Am. Soc. Hortic. Sci. 108, 397–400Google Scholar
  2. Beck, E., Senser, W., Scheibe, R., Steiger, H.M., Pongratz, P. (1982) Frost avoidance and freezing tolerance in Afroalpine ‘giant rosette’ plants. Plant Cell Environ. 5, 215–222Google Scholar
  3. Burke, M.J., Rajashekar, C., George, M.F. (1983) Freezing of plant tissues and evidence for large negative pressure potentials. Plant Physiol. 72 Suppl., 44Google Scholar
  4. Chen, P.M., Burke, M.J., Li, P.H. (1976) The frost hardiness of several Solanum species in relation to the freezing of water, melting point depression, and tissue water content. Bot. Gaz. (Chicago) 137, 313–317Google Scholar
  5. Cosgrove, D.J., Cleland, R.E. (1983) Solutes in the free space of growing stem tissues. Plant Physiol 72, 326–331Google Scholar
  6. Gusta, L.V., Burke, M.J., Kapoor, A.C. (1975) Determination of unfrozen water in winter cereals at sub-freezing temperatures. Plant Physiol. 56, 707–709Google Scholar
  7. Gusta, L.V., Tyler, N.J., Chen, T.H.-H. (1983) Deep undercooling in woody taxa growing north of the -40° C isotherm. Plant Physiol. 72, Suppl., 44Google Scholar
  8. Harrison, L.C., Weiser, C.J., Burke, M.J. (1978) Freezing of water in red-osier dogwood stems in relation to cold hardiness. Plant Physiol. 62, 899–901Google Scholar
  9. Larcher, W. (1984) Kälte und Frost. In: Handbuch der Pflanzenkrankheiten, Bd. 1, Sorauer, P., ed. Parey, Berlin (in press)Google Scholar
  10. Levitt, J. (1978) An overview of freezing injury and survival, and its interrelationships to other stresses. In: Plant cold hardiness and freezing stress, pp. 3–15, Li, P.H., Sakai, A., eds. Academic Press, New York San Francisco LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Marcellos, H., Burke, M.J. (1979) Frost injury in wheat: ice formation and injury in leaves. Aust. J. Plant Physiol. 6, 513–521Google Scholar
  12. Olien, C.R. (1978) Analyses of freezing stresses and plant response. In: Plant cold hardiness and freezing stress, vol. 1, pp. 37–48, Li, P.H., Sakai, A., eds. Academic Press, New York San Francisco LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Palta, J.P., Levitt, J., Stadelmann, E.J., Burke, M.J. (1977) Dehydration of onion cells: a comparison of freezing vs. desiccation and living vs. dead cells. Physiol. Plant. 41, 273–279Google Scholar
  14. Rajashekar, C., Burke, M.J. (1982) Liquid water during slow freezing based on cell water relation and limited experimental testing. In: Plant cold hardiness and freezing stress, vol. 2, pp. 211–220, Li, P.H., Sakai, A., eds. Academic Press, New York LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Schulze, E.-D., Beck, E., Scheibe, R., Ziegler, P. (1984) Carbon dioxide assimilation and stomatal responses of Afroalpine ‘giant rosette’ plants. Oecologia (Berlin) (in press)Google Scholar
  16. Shackel, L.A. (1984) Theoretical and experimental errors for in-situ measurements of plant water potential. Plant Physiol. 75 (in press)Google Scholar
  17. Steponkus, P.L., Garber, M.P., Myers, S.P., Lineberger, R.D. (1977) Effects of cold acclimation and freezing on structure and function of chloroplast thylakoids. Cryobiology 14, 303–321Google Scholar
  18. Van Haveren, B.P. (1972) Measurements of relative vapor pressure in snow with thermocouple psychrometers. In: Psychrometry in water relation research, pp. 178–184, Brown, R.W., Van Haveren, B.P., eds. Utah Agricultural Experiment. Station, Utah State UniversityGoogle Scholar
  19. Washburn, E.W., West, C.J., eds. (1928) International critical tables of numerical data, physics, chemistry and technology, vol. 3. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erwin Beck
    • 1
  • Ernst-Detlef Schulze
    • 2
  • Margot Senser
    • 3
  • Renate Scheibe
    • 1
  1. 1.Lehrstuhl Pflanzenphysiologie der UniversitätBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.Lehrstuhl Pflanzenökologie der UniversitätBayreuthGermany
  3. 3.Botanisches Institut der UniversitätMünchen 19Germany

Personalised recommendations