Plant Cold Hardiness: From the Laboratory to the Field

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Plant Cold Hardiness: From the Laboratory to the Field. 2009. Lawrence V. Gusta, Michael E. Wisniewski, and Karen K. Tanino (eds.). CABI, 875 Massachusetts Avenue, 7th Floor, Cambridge, MA 02139. 317 p. $170, hardcover, ISBN-13: 978-1-84593-513-9.

This book is a publication of several papers that were presented at the 8th International Plant Cold Hardiness Seminar in 2007 at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. About 90 authors contributed to the book. The contributors include plant physiologists, plant breeders, plant ecologists, agronomists, microbiologists, molecular biologists, and other scientists and policy makers. The book has 28 chapters presented in eight sections or parts, which have groups of chapters addressing topics with a similar theme. Each part has two to six chapters on basic and applied research on plant cold hardiness. Most chapters are about seven to 10 pages, thereby giving readers precise reviews of the topics of discussion. Each chapter has an extensive listing of references cited.

Part 1 covers “The Freezing Process” with four chapters addressing ice nucleation, low-temperature damage to wheat, freezing behaviors in plant tissues, and deep supercooling in xylem parenchyma of trees. Part 2 addresses the “Molecular Basis for the Acquisition of Freezing Tolerance” with five chapters on plant cold-shock domain proteins, the plasma membrane and plant-freezing tolerance, ethanol fermentation as a stress coping strategy, and global expression of cold-responsive genes. Part 3 has three chapters on the “Linkage between Developmental Arrest and Cold Hardiness” with topics on bud set, climate adaptation, and temperature and dormancy in trees and other woody plants.

Part 4 addresses the “Genetic Basis of Superior Cold Tolerance” with two chapters, with one on the genetics of vernalization and winter hardiness in cereal plants and one on gene expression in conveying freezing tolerance in dicotyledonous plants. Part 5 addresses the “Impact of Global Climate Change on Plants” with six chapters on evolution of plant cold hardiness in the Canadian Arctic, ice encasement damage on crops and plants in Iceland, impact of simulated acid snow on winter wheat, elevated carbon dioxide concentrations and plant vulnerability to frost damage, potential impact of climate change on fruit crops, and cold hardiness in Antarctic vascular plants. Part 6 covers “Bridging the Gap from the Laboratory to the Field,” which was the theme of the Conference, although this part is not necessarily the core section of the book. This section has three chapters addressing the influence of species, environment, and experimental procedures on freezing patterns in plants, low-temperature tolerance in conifers, and cold-hardening responses in insects.

Part 7 covers “Photosynthesis and Signalling” with three chapters on likely effects of warmer temperatures on photosynthesis and hardiness in conifers, chemical genetics and stress determinants in Arabidopsis, and the ascorbate antioxidant pathway in alfalfa plants with contrasting freezing tolerance. Part 8 is called “Systems Biology” and has a chapter on identification of proteins of potato leaves submitted to chilling and a chapter on the genomics of cold hardiness in forest trees.

This book presents current research on the effects of cold temperatures on world distribution of plants and their growth and yield. It covers ecological studies on the impact of global warming and transgenic approaches to cold acclimation. Factors, such as ice nucleation, antifreeze proteins, supercooling, and plant structure and biochemistry, are considered to present a holistic understanding of cold hardiness within and among species. Climate and weather are discussed as factors in the evolution or development of cold hardiness and as factors in damage to plants. Uses of instrumentation in measurements of freezing behaviors in cold-hardy plants are discussed. The text is essentially free of jargon, but the heavy use of abbreviations sometimes makes it difficult to read some chapters without searching for definitions of the abbreviations. This book is informative and will be valuable to horticulturists with interests in cold hardiness of crops.

Allen V. Barker Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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