Heat memory in plants: histone modifications, nucleosome positioning and miRNA accumulation alter heat memory gene expression

Genes Genet Syst. 2022 Feb 23;96(5):229-235. doi: 10.1266/ggs.21-00040. Epub 2021 Sep 16.


Plant adaptation to high temperature, often referred to as heat acclimation, is a process in which exposure to moderately high temperatures increases a plant's tolerance to subsequent (normally) lethal high temperatures. Plants store heat experience information (heat memory) obtained from previous exposure to high temperatures for several days and develop future temperature responsiveness. However, our understanding of heat acclimation is very limited. In the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, changes in the expression patterns of heat memory genes play a central role in regulating plant survival and adaptation to recurring heat stress. Heat stress-related transcription factors and histone-modifying enzymes function in the sensitized expression of heat memory genes via the deposition and removal of histone modifications. Chromatin-remodeling complexes and miRNA accumulation also trigger the sustained expression of heat memory genes. In this review, I describe studies of heat acclimation that have provided important insights into the molecular mechanisms that lead to flexible and reversible gene expression upon heat stress in plants.

Keywords: heat acclimation; heat memory; histone modification; miRNA; nucleosome positioning.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis* / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Histone Code
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism
  • Nucleosomes


  • MicroRNAs
  • Nucleosomes