Overwintering plants secrete antifreeze proteins (AFPs) to provide freezing tolerance. These proteins bind to and inhibit the growth of ice crystals that are formed in the apoplast during subzero temperatures. Antifreeze activity has been detected in more than 60 plants and AFPs have been purified from 15 of these, including gymnosperms, dicots and monocots. Biochemical characterization of plant antifreeze activity, as determined by the high ice recrystallization inhibition (IRI) activities and low thermal hysteresis (TH) of AFPs, showed that their main function is inhibition of ice crystal growth rather than the lowering of freezing temperatures. However, recent studies showed that antifreeze activity with higher TH also exists in plants. Calcium and hormones like ethylene and jasmonic acid have been shown to regulate plant antifreeze activity. Recent studies have shown that plant AFPs bind to both prism planes and basal planes of ice crystals by means of two flat ice binding sites. Plant AFPs have been postulated to evolve from the OsLRR-PSR gene nearly 36 million years ago. In this review, we present the current scenario of plant AFP research in order to understand the possible potential of plant AFPs in generation of freezing-tolerant crops.
Volume 45, 2020
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