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Molecular physiology of chilling tolerance of Petunia and Euphorbia pulcherrima


2010 - 2014

Future greenhouse production of ornamental crops in Central and Northern Europe depends on the reduction of energy inputs. Plants with a higher tolerance against chilling stress can be produced at lower temperatures and thus reduce consumption of energy and resources. Obviously, gene pools of those plant species, which usually require moderately high temperatures for growth and development, include reserves, which can be used for breeding to enhance chilling tolerance.

Cooperation Partners

Dr. Heiko Mibus-Schoppe and Dr. Henning von Alten - Leibniz-Universität Hannover
Dr. Susanne Amberger-Ochsenbauer - Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences
Dr. Dirk Ludolph and Frau Beate ter Hell - Chamber of Agriculture Lower Saxony
Versuchsanstalt für Gartenbau Ahlem
Dr. Robert Boehm - Klemm+Sohn GmbH & Co KG

Molecular physiology of chilling tolerance of Petunia and others

However, the lack of knowledge concerning the regulation of chilling tolerance at the molecular and physiological levels hampers the integration of low temperature concepts in greenhouse production. This project, which is part of the joint project „Chilling Tolerance of Plants“ within the WeGa network, aims to close these gaps. The objective is to specify parameters to determine tolerance to sub-optimal growth temperature, identify chilling-tolerant genotypes of Petunia hybrida and Euphorbia pulcherrima, and disclose relationships between the chilling response of growth (shoot and bract development, respectively) and changes at the levels of carbohydrate metabolism, plant hormone homeostasis and gene expression.

The studies include analyses of particular plant hormones by GC-MS/MS, of carbohydrates and related enzymes by enzymatic assays and with petunia expression analysis of approximately 25,000 gene sequences with a petunia microarray. Finally, it will be tested whether cultivars diverging in chilling tolerance exhibit characteristic response profiles at the molecular and physiological levels.

(part of the AgroClustEr WeGa,, funded by the BMBF)

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