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.
The effects of gamma irradiation on the vernalization requirements, growth and development of winter wheat grown in a rainout shelter were studied during two successive growing seasons. Dry grains of winter wheat cv. Kobra were irradiated with 300 Gy radiation from a cobalt 60 gamma irradiator. Treated and control grains were pregerminated and subjected to vernalization for 0, 42 or 54 days. Morphological parameters of the plants developing from irradiated seeds (M1 generation) and the plants grown from the seeds produced by the irradiated plants (M2 generation) were measured in order to track the studied effects over two generations. Irradiation of dry grains slowed the growth and development of the plants regardless of the temperature treatment. The measured yield structure elements appeared to be lower for irradiated plants, but no clear effect of radiation on vernalization requirements was noted