Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf. seeds were germinated in perlite under intermittent mist at about 25 °C and natural daylight in a greenhouse. Two-week-old seedlings were then transferred into a growth chamber at 25 °C and 16-hour daylength for 1 week. Tissue samples were collected at 0, 6, 24, 168, and 504 hours after temperature equilibration at 10 °C. Freezing tolerance at –6.7 °C, as determined by electrolyte leakage, and stem (leaves attached) water potential (ψx), measured using a pressure chamber, was recorded for a subset of seedlings for each time interval. Red coloration (apparently anthocyanin) developed at the petiole leaflet junction and buds after 48 hours at 10 °C and gradually occurred throughout the leaves during further exposure. Complementary DNA clones for phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), 4-coumarate: coA ligase (4CL), and chalcone synthase (CHS) were used to probe RNA isolated from the leaves. No increase in steady-state messenger RNA level was detected. Increases in freeze hardiness occurred within 6 hours in the leaves, and continued for up to 1 week. Water potential initially decreased from –0.6 to –2.0 MPa after 6 hours, then returned to –0.6 MPa after 1 week. Thus, Poncirus trifoliata seedlings freeze-acclimate significantly after only 6 hours at 10 °C.
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