Frost injury limits the cultivation of potatoes in many regions around the world. We are currently studying the factors that contribute to frost survival in potato in an attempt to improve its frost tolerance. Wild potato species have been distinguished for their high degree of non-acclimated frost tolerance (growing under normal conditions) and their high cold acclimation capacity (able to increase frost tolerance upon exposure to cold). Cold acclimation can be reversed upon exposure to warm temperatures (deacclimation). The ability to gain freezing tolerance rapidly in response to low temperatures as well as not being able to deacclimate rapidly in response to warm daytime temperatures would be advantageous for a plant against spring or fall freezes. Last year we presented evidence for the variability in the speed of cold acclimation among 7 wild tuber-bearing potato species (S. acaule, S. commersonii, S. megistacrolobum, S. multidissectum, S. polytrichon, S. sanctae-rosae and S. toralapanum). The same set of species was used for the present study to find out if there is also variability for the speed of deacclimation. Relative freezing tolerance of these species was measured before and after cold acclimation as well as after one day of deacclimation (exposure to warm temperatures). Our results suggest that there are differences in the speed of deacclimation among these species. We found that while some species lost near a half of their hardiness, others lost only a third or less of their hardiness after one day of deacclimation.
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