In-Cold Exposure to Z-3-Hexenal Provides Protection Against Ongoing Cold Stress in Zea mays
Green leaf volatiles (GLVs), which have mostly been described as providers of protection against insect herbivory and necrotrophic pathogen infections, were recently shown to provide significant fortification against cold stress damage. It was further demonstrated that cold-damaged maize seedlings released a significant amount of GLVs, in particular, Z-3-hexenal (Z-3-HAL). Here, we report that the in-cold treatment of maize seedlings with Z-3-HAL significantly improved cold stress resistance. The transcripts for cold-protective genes were also significantly increased in the Z-3-HAL treated maize seedlings over those found in only cold stressed plants. Consequently, the maize seedlings treated with HAL during cold showed a significantly increased structural integrity, significantly less damage, and increased growth after cold stress, relative to the non-HAL treated maize seedlings. Together, these results demonstrate the protective effect of in-cold treatment with HAL against cold damage, and suggest that the perception of these compounds during cold episodes significantly improves resistance against this abiotic stress.