AbstractAbsolute and relative content and composition of fatty acids, total lipids, and phospholipids, as principal constituents of cell membranes, were examined on vegetative buds of deciduous trees and shrubs throughout the summer and autumn–winter seasons under climatic conditions of the cryolithozone of Yakutia. Lipid metabolism was found to play an essential role in plants' adaptation to low autumnal and winter temperatures in the permafrost zone of Yakutia. The content of phosphatidylcholine in leaf buds of the birch Betula pendula Roth and the shrub Alnus alnobetula subsp. fruticosa (Rupr.) Raus increased throughout the observation period from 9.9 to 23.4 mg/g dry wt. In the autumn–winter period, the composition of fatty acids in the bud lipids of both species was characterized by a high content of unsaturated C18:2 and C18:3 acids. Biosynthesis of fatty acids in buds of deciduous trees and shrubs at a low temperature was apparently controlled by ω3-desaturase, whose activity elevated the content of α-linolenic acid from 2.9 to 5.7 mg/g in B. pendula and from 1.6 to 4.8 mg/g dry wt in A. alnobetula subsp. fruticosa. The seasonal decrease in air temperature was accompanied by an increase in the unsaturation coefficient (k) from 0.9 to 2.3 in B. pendula and from 1.4 to 1.8 in A. alnobetula subsp. fruticosa. It is proposed that the high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the autumn–winter period in vegetative buds of the examined woody plants is determined by a complex of climatic factors of the permafrost zone, such as a sharply contrasting day and night temperatures during plant dormancy, extremely low air temperature in winter (down to –60°С), and a short daylight period at this time of the year.