, Volume 235, Issue 6, pp 1091–1105 | Cite as

Physiological and molecular changes in plants grown at low temperatures

  • Andreas Theocharis
  • Christophe Clément
  • Essaïd Ait BarkaEmail author


Apart from water availability, low temperature is the most important environmental factor limiting the productivity and geographical distribution of plants across the world. To cope with cold stress, plant species have evolved several physiological and molecular adaptations to maximize cold tolerance by adjusting their metabolism. The regulation of some gene products represents an additional mechanism of cold tolerance. A consequence of these mechanisms is that plants are able to survive exposure to low temperature via a process known as cold acclimation. In this review, we briefly summarize recent progress in research and hypotheses on how sensitive plants perceive cold. We also explore how this perception is translated into changes within plants following exposure to low temperatures. Particular emphasis is placed on physiological parameters as well as transcriptional, post-transcriptional and post-translational regulation of cold-induced gene products that occur after exposure to low temperatures, leading to cold acclimation.


C-repeat binding factor Low temperatures Plant acclimation Signal perception 



Abscisic acid


C-repeat binding factor


Cold-responsive genes


C-repeat elements


Dehydration-responsive elements


Dehydration-responsive element binding


Inducer of CBF expression


Low temperature



The first author (A.T.) was supported by a Grant from the Greek State Scholarship Foundation (I.K.Y.).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Theocharis
    • 1
  • Christophe Clément
    • 1
  • Essaïd Ait Barka
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Stress, Défense et Reproduction des Plantes, URVVC, UPRES EA 2069Université de Reims Champagne-ArdenneReims Cedex 2France

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