Plants face a plethora of biotic and abiotic stresses ranging from extreme temperatures to salinity, drought, nutritional deficiencies, chemical toxicity, and pathogen attacks. As a consequence, plants have acquired several sophisticated regulatory mechanisms that allow them to cope with such adverse conditions. Epigenetic regulation plays a key role in the mechanisms of plant response to the environment, without altering DNA sequences. Epigenetics refers to heritable alterations in chromatin architecture that do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence but alter gene expression through DNA methylation or histone modifications. The epigenetic regulation of the plant genome is a highly dynamic process that fine-tunes the expression of a pertinent set of genes under certain environmental or developmental conditions. Over the past two decades rapid advancements in the field of high throughput sequencing unveil epigenetic information at genome wide level in various plant species. In view of the adverse effects of global climatic change, utilizing epigenetic differences for developing improved crop varieties is of paramount importance.
Part of the book: Epigenetics