‘Dajiao’ (Musa spp. “Dajiao”; ABB group; accession No. LCDJ_01) and Cavendish banana (Musa spp. AAA group) were harvested from the National Banana Germplasm Repository, Institute of Fruit Tree Research, Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences. For cold treatment, the potted plantlets were cultivated up to the five-leaf-stage in a growth chamber under the conditions as follows: temperatures of 30/28 °C (day/night), the photon flux density of 240 μmol m− 2 s− 1, 12-h photoperiod, and relative humidity of 60–80%. Three plants with a uniform growth status were then placed into a chamber set at 10 °C for 0, 1, 3, 6, 24 and 48 h in the dark. The temperature treatment repeated three times in a single growth chamber. The fully expanded leaves on the top of the plants/plantlets were harvested at the indicated time intervals, frozen in liquid nitrogen right away, and preserved at − 80 °C before further analysis. All specimens at each time point were collected in triplicate. Three plantlets constitute a biological for each separate cultivar used in this study.

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