Sour cherry and strawberry are examples of two Rosaceous species that often suffer crop reductions due to spring freezes. Breeding for improved floral freezing tolerance has the potential to mitigate the susceptibility of these plants to spring frosts. In model plant systems, researchers have been able to identify genes that play a role in freezing tolerance by initially searching for mRNAs regulated in response to cold temperatures. To search for cold-responsive freezing-tolerance genes in strawberry and sour cherry, it is necessary to first define their cold acclimation response. To test the hypothesis that sour cherry and strawberry flowers have the ability to cold acclimate, blooming plants were exposed to 4 °C and 16 h light for 14 days. Sour cherry styles and strawberry receptacles from open, fully developed flowers were excised, and electrolyte leakage curves were generated over a range of subzero temperatures. The temperature at which 50% electrolyte leakage (EL50) occurred was used to compare treatments. The flowers of two strawberry cultivars were tested for the ability to cold acclimate. Non-acclimated `Chandler' receptacles had an EL50 of -2.9 °C, while non-acclimated `Honeoye' had an EL50 of -3.4 °C. Conversely, acclimated `Chandler' receptacles had an EL50 of -7.7 and acclimated `Honeoye' receptacles had an EL50 of -8.7 °C, both are significantly different from non-acclimated values (P ≤ 0.01). Additionally, sour cherry styles were collected from the field at full bloom from a mapping population of 86 individuals from the cross `Rheinische Schattenmorelle' × `Erdi Botermo' and acclimated as previously described. The EL50 of the 86 progeny ranged from approximately -2.0 to -6.0 °C.
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