Stress-induced chromatin changes in plants: of memories, metabolites and crop improvement

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2015 Apr;72(7):1261-73. doi: 10.1007/s00018-014-1792-z. Epub 2015 Jan 13.


Exposure of plants to adverse environmental conditions leads to extensive transcriptional changes. Genome-wide approaches and gene function studies have revealed the importance of chromatin-level control in the regulation of stress-responsive gene expression. Advances in understanding chromatin modifications implicated in plant stress response and identifying proteins involved in chromatin-mediated transcriptional responses to stress are briefly presented in this review. We then highlight how chromatin-mediated gene expression changes can be coupled to the metabolic status of the cell, since many of the chromatin-modifying proteins involved in transcriptional regulation depend on cofactors and metabolites that are shared with enzymes in basic metabolism. Lastly, we discuss the stability and heritability of stress-induced chromatin changes and the potential of chromatin-based strategies for increasing stress tolerance of crops.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics
  • Chromatin / genetics*
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Crops, Agricultural / genetics
  • Crops, Agricultural / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Methylation
  • Models, Genetic
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics*


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Plant Proteins