Cold nights impair leaf growth and cell cycle progression in maize through transcriptional changes of cell cycle genes
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Plant physiology. - Rockville, Md
, p. 1429-1438
Low temperature inhibits the growth of maize (Zea mays) seedlings and limits yield under field conditions. To study the mechanism of cold-induced growth retardation, we exposed maize B73 seedlings to low night temperature (25°C /4°C, day/night) from germination until the completion of leaf 4 expansion. This treatment resulted in a 20% reduction in final leaf size compared to control conditions (25°C/18°C, day/night). A kinematic analysis of leaf growth rates in control and cold-treated leaves during daytime showed that cold nights affected both cell cycle time (+65%) and cell production (−22%). In contrast, the size of mature epidermal cells was unaffected. To analyze the effect on cell cycle progression at the molecular level, we identified through a bioinformatics approach a set of 43 cell cycle genes and analyzed their expression in proliferating, expanding, and mature cells of leaves exposed to either control or cold nights. This analysis showed that: (1) the majority of cell cycle genes had a consistent proliferation-specific expression pattern; and (2) the increased cell cycle time in the basal meristem of leaves exposed to cold nights was associated with differential expression of cell cycle inhibitors and with the concomitant down-regulation of positive regulators of cell division.