Fatty acids in cotton seedlings prevent freezing by changing the composition of the cell membranes.

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Cotton plants prepare for cold nights by changing the composition of their cell membranes, reports Arnon Rikin and his colleagues at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. At night, the concentrations of two unsaturated fatty acids in the membrane--linoleic and linolenic--increase. The double carbon bonds in the tails of these fatty acids create a "kink" that keeps fatty acid molecules from packing together too tightly. In effect, the membrane remains fluid, and proteins are readily able to move through. Interestingly, cotton plants exhibit this response even without light cues. That is to say, the adaptation is triggered by an internal clock, rather than by the daily light/dark cycle. (Day 1993; Rikin et al. 1993)

Journal article
Correlation between the Circadian Rhythm of Resistance to Extreme Temperatures and Changes in Fatty Acid Composition in Cotton Seedlings.Plant physiologyJanuary 1, 1993
Rikin A, Dillwith JW, Bergman DK.

Journal article
How plants prepare for the cold of nightDay, S

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Upland CottonGossypium hirsutumSpecies

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