Plant Science Innovation, Center for


Document Type


Date of this Version



Cano-Ramirez, D.L.; Carmona-Salazar, L.; Morales-Cedillo, F.; Ramírez-Salcedo, J.; Cahoon, E.B.; Gavilanes-Ruíz, M. Plasma Membrane Fluidity: An Environment Thermal Detector in Plants. Cells 2021, 10, 2778. cells10102778


© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/).


The lipid matrix in cell membranes is a dynamic, bidimensional array of amphipathic molecules exhibiting mesomorphism, which contributes to the membrane fluidity changes in response to temperature fluctuation. As sessile organisms, plants must rapidly and accurately respond to environmental thermal variations. However, mechanisms underlying temperature perception in plants are poorly understood. We studied the thermal plasticity of membrane fluidity using three fluorescent probes across a temperature range of -5 to 41 °C in isolated microsomal fraction (MF), vacuolar membrane (VM), and plasma membrane (PM) vesicles from Arabidopsis plants. Results showed that PM were highly fluid and exhibited more phase transitions and hysteresis, while VM and MF lacked such attributes. These findings suggest that PM is an important cell hub with the capacity to rapidly undergo fluidity modifications in response to small changes of temperatures in ranges spanning those experienced in natural habitats. PM fluidity behaves as an ideal temperature detector: it is always present, covers the whole cell, responds quickly and with sensitivity to temperature variations, functions with a cell free-energy cost, and it is physically connected with potential thermal signal transducers to elicit a cell response. It is an optimal alternative for temperature detection selected for the plant kingdom.