Cold priming the chickpea seeds imparts reproductive cold tolerance by reprogramming the turnover of carbohydrates, osmo-protectants and redox components in leaves

Anju Thakur, Kamal Dev Sharma, Kadambot H.M. Siddique, Harsh Nayyar

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Chickpea, a vital food legume, shows high sensitivity to cold stress at reproductive stage, and temperatures below 20/10 °C, (as day/night temperature) at this stage result in disruption in developmental and functional aspects of reproductive components, causing floral abortion, poor pods and significant yield losses. In the present study, chickpea seeds (a cold sensitive genotype GPF2) were cold primed at 5 °C ± 1 °C in the dark for 30 days, followed by gradual air-drying at 15 °C to the original moisture content (11–13%). The crop was raised in the month of November from non-primed and primed seeds in the outdoor environment (temperature profile: 11.7 °C; mean day/night temperature; 1300–1500 μmol m−2 s−1 light intensity, 65–70% relative humidity), until the onset of budding and flowering (45 days after sowing). Subsequently, the plants were separated into different sets to impose following treatments in controlled environment a) control (at optimum temperature; a set of plants were grown at optimum temperature (25/18 °C) until maturity, b) cold-stressed; a set of the plants were grown at low temperature (15/8 °C) until maturity, c) raised from cold-primed seeds but grown at optimum temperature (25/18 °C) until maturity, d) raised from cold-primed seeds and exposed to low temperature (15/8 °C), until maturity. The plants were tested for various traits in the leaves at 0–25 days after exposure to stress. Cold stress resulted in damage to membranes, photosynthetic ability (as loss of chlorophyll, photosystem II function and chlorophyll fluorescence, stomatal conductance), photo-assimilation capacity (as sucrose metabolism), hydration status (as leaf water content), production of osmolytes (as disruption in metabolism of proline, trehalose, glycine betaine, and GABA production) and decreased the redox status of the cells (as decrease in activity and expression of various enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants. Reproductive function was markedly decreased, as was evident from reduction in pollen viability, pollen germination, stigma receptivity and ovule viability). Pod number and seed weight plant−1 showed 65.5 and 68.4% reduction because of cold stress. The plants raised from cold-primed seeds were remarkable benefitted at reproductive stage, which showed significantly improved pollen and stigmatic function, resulting in considerable recovery of the pod number and seed weight plant-1. The benefits of the cold priming were possibly related to improved leaf function (hydration status, photosynthetic and carbon fixation ability), which increased the sucrose concentration in the leaves to support the reproductive function, along with enhanced anti-oxidative capacity and osmo-protectants’ production, which were significantly more in cold-stressed plants, grown from cold-primed seeds, compared to the controls. Our findings in this regard are novel and suggest an effective strategy to enhance cold tolerance in chickpea.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108929
JournalScientia Horticulturae
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2020


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