Arabidopsis seedlings are highly sensitive to low oxygen and they die rapidly when exposed to anoxia. Tolerance to anoxia depends on the ability to efficiently use carbohydrates through the fermentative pathway, as highlighted by the lower tolerance displayed by a mutant devoid of alcohol dehydrogenase. Other mechanisms of tolerance are also possible and may include a role for heat-induced genes. In fact, heat shock proteins (HSPs) are induced by anoxia. This suggests that there may be a cross-adaptation mechanism between heat and anoxic stress, and in this work, we studied the acclimation of Arabidopsis seedlings both to low oxygen and heat. The results show that seedlings subjected to hypoxia or heat pretreatment survive anoxia much better. Interestingly, we also observed an increased anoxia tolerance in heat-treated alcohol dehydrogenase (adh) mutant plants. On the other hand, anoxic pretreatment does not confer tolerance to heat stress. The success of the induction of HSPs by anoxia is in direct relation to the amount of sucrose available, and this in turn relates to how well seedlings will survive under anoxia. HSP transcripts were also detected during seed development and germination, two hypoxia-prone processes, suggesting that hypoxia-induced HSP expression is physiologically relevant. Key-words: heat shock; hypoxia; sucrose
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