Seasonal growth patterns of perennial plants are linked to patterns of acclimation and de-acclimation to seasonal stresses. The timing of cold acclimation (development of freezing resistance) and leaf growth cessation in autumn, and the timing of de-acclimation and leaf regrowth in spring, is regulated by seasonal cues in the environment, mainly temperature and light factors. Warming will lead to new combinations of these cues in autumn and spring. Extended thermal growing seasons offer a possibility for obtaining increased yields of perennial grasses at high latitudes. Increased productivity in the autumn may not be possible in all high latitude regions due to the need for light during cold acclimation and the need for accumulating a carbohydrate storage prior to winter. There is more potential for increased yields in spring due to the availability of light, but higher probability of freezing events in earlier springs would necessitate a delay of de-acclimation, or an ability to rapidly re-acclimate. In order to optimize the balance between productivity and overwintering in the future, the regulation of growth and acclimation processes may have to be modified. Here, the current knowledge on the coordinated regulation of growth and freezing resistance in perennial grasses is reviewed.
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