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Abstract

Plants are continuously exposed to various environmental stresses and they respond to them in different ways. Ambient temperature is among the most important environmental cues that directly influence plant growth and yield. Research in recent years has revealed that epigenetic mechanisms play a key role in plants' response to temperature stress. Changes in gene expression evoked by stress signals follow post-translational histone modifications, DNA methylation, histone variant incorporation, and the action of chromatin remodeling factors and Polycomb group proteins. The majority of epigenetic modifications induced by temperature stress are reversible in nature; thus, chromatin returns to its previous state after the stress has passed. Some modifications seem stable, however, due presumably to so-called stress memory. Epigenetic modifications can be inherited through mitosis and meiosis. By dint of epigenetic memory, plants can more efficiently respond to future stressful conditions, thereby increasing their potential for environmental adaptation. Recognition of the epigenetic mechanisms that take part in plants' response to changes of ambient temperature will increase our understanding of adaptations to stress conditions.
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