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Name: Jonathan
Status: student
Grade: N/A
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Question:
I'd like to know is it possible to freeze a plant and revive it? If so, what mechanisms are involved?


Replies:
There are a number of mechanisms for both plants and animals to survive exposure to temperatures well below 0 C. (32 F.). Some involve the production of a proteins and/or carbohydrates that act as anti-freezes. Others actually induce freezing of inter-cellular water before the water can breach the cell walls. This is effective because if water freezes INSIDE the cell, the cell may burst, killing the cell, but if the water freezes OUTSIDE the cell much less damage occurs. Other mechanisms include slowing, but not necessarily preventing the freezing of water, because the SUDDEN freezing of water is far more destructive than the SLOW freezing of water. In the latter case the organism has the chance to respond to the increase in volume that occurs when water freezing. In many cases that is more important than the actual low temperature.
There are many mechanisms. The book entitled "Ice" by Mariana Gosnell discusses many examples of the various mechanisms plants and animals have adapted to prevent or minimize the effects of freezing.

Vince Calder



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