Biochemistry, Department of


Date of this Version



Accepted for publication by the Journal of Experimental Botany, 2023


Copyright © 2023 by the authors.


Oligogalactolipid production is a response to severe cold in many land plant lineages. It occurs during times of membrane damage and can be reproduced in multiple species by cytosolic acidification.

Severe cold, defined as a damaging cold beyond acclimation temperatures, has unique responses, but the signaling and evolution of these responses are not well understood. Production of oligogalactolipids, which is triggered by cytosolic acidification in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), contributes to survival in severe cold. Here, we investigated oligogalactolipid production in species from bryophytes to angiosperms. Production of oligogalactolipids differed within each clade, suggesting multiple evolutionary origins of severe cold tolerance. We also observed greater oligogalactolipid production in control samples instead of temperature challenged samples of some species. Further examination of representative species revealed a tight association between temperature, damage, and oligogalactolipid production that scaled with the cold tolerance of each species. Based on oligogalactolipid production and transcript changes, multiple angiosperm species share a signal of oligogalactolipid production initially described in Arabidopsis, cytosolic acidification. Together, these data suggest that oligogalactolipid production is a severe cold response that originated from an ancestral damage response that remains in many land plant lineages and that cytosolic acidification may be a common signaling mechanism for its activation.