Antifreeze proteins in overwintering plants: A tale of two activities

Marilyn Griffith, Mahmoud W.F. Yaish

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

436 Citations (Scopus)


Antifreeze proteins are found in a wide range of overwintering plants where they inhibit the growth and recrystallization of ice that forms in intercellular spaces. Unlike antifreeze proteins found in fish and insects, plant antifreeze proteins have multiple, hydrophilic ice-binding domains. Surprisingly, antifreeze proteins from plants are homologous to pathogenesis-related proteins and also provide protection against psychrophilic pathogens. In winter rye (Secale cereale), antifreeze proteins accumulate in response to cold, short daylength, dehydration and ethylene, but not pathogens. Transferring single genes encoding antifreeze proteins to freezing-sensitive plants lowered their freezing temperatures by ∼1°C. Genes encoding dual-function plant antifreeze proteins are excellent models for use in evolutionary studies to determine how genes acquire new expression patterns and how proteins acquire new activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-405
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Plant Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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