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Steiner, Philip; Buchner, Othmar; Andosch, Ancuela; Wanner, Gerhard; Neuner, Gilbert; Luetz-Meindl, Ursula (2020): Fusion of Mitochondria to 3-D Networks, Autophagy and Increased Organelle Contacts are Important Subcellular Hallmarks during Cold Stress in Plants. In: International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Vol. 21, No. 22, 8753
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Low temperature stress has a severe impact on the distribution, physiology, and survival of plants in their natural habitats. While numerous studies have focused on the physiological and molecular adjustments to low temperatures, this study provides evidence that cold induced physiological responses coincide with distinct ultrastructural alterations. Three plants from different evolutionary levels and habitats were investigated: The freshwater alga Micrasterias denticulata, the aquatic plant Lemna sp., and the nival plant Ranunculus glacialis. Ultrastructural alterations during low temperature stress were determined by the employment of 2-D transmission electron microscopy and 3-D reconstructions from focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopic series. With decreasing temperatures, increasing numbers of organelle contacts and particularly the fusion of mitochondria to 3-dimensional networks were observed. We assume that the increase or at least maintenance of respiration during low temperature stress is likely to be based on these mitochondrial interconnections. Moreover, it is shown that autophagy and degeneration processes accompany freezing stress in Lemna and R. glacialis. This might be an essential mechanism to recycle damaged cytoplasmic constituents to maintain the cellular metabolism during freezing stress.