Background and Aims: Most perennial plants memorize cold stress for a certain period and retrieve the memories for cold acclimation and deacclimation, which leads to seasonal changes in cold-hardiness. Therefore, a model for evaluating cold stress memories is required for predicting cold-hardiness and for future frost risk assessments under warming climates. In this study we develop a new dynamic model of cold-hardiness by introducing a function imitating past temperature memory in the processes of cold acclimation and deacclimation. Methods: We formulated the past temperature memory for plants using thermal time weighted by a forgetting function, and thereby proposed a dynamic model of cold-hardiness. We used the buds of tea plants (Camellia sinensis) from two cultivars, 'Yabukita' and 'Yutakamidori', to calibrate and validate this model based on 10 years of observed cold-hardiness data. Key Results: The model captured more than 90 % of the observed variation in cold-hardiness and predicted accurate values for both cultivars, with root mean square errors of ~1.0 °C. The optimized forgetting function indicated that the tea buds memorized both short-term (recent days) and long-term (previous months) temperatures. The memories can drive short-term processes such as increasing/decreasing the content of carbohydrates, proteins and antioxidants in the buds, as well as long-term processes such as determining the bud phenological stage, both of which vary with cold-hardiness. Conclusions: The use of a forgetting function is an effective means of understanding temperature memories in plants and will aid in developing reliable predictions of cold-hardiness for various plant species under global climate warming.
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