Agronomy and Horticulture, Department of


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2020 Luo, Ríos, Sarnowski, Zhang, Mantri, Charron and Libault


Editorial: New Insights Into Mechanisms of Epigenetic Modifiers in Plant Growth and Development. Front. Plant Sci. 10:1661. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01661


In eukaryotic cells, chromatin, a highly dynamic nucleoprotein complex, plays a critical role in controlling gene expression notably by regulating the interaction between transcription factors and regulatory elements. The structure of the chromatin is determined by epigenetic mechanisms, including DNA methylation, histone modifications, and chromatin remodeling. A growing body of evidence indicates that epigenetic regulations are involved in plant adaptation to environmental stresses, and in plant development, including flowering control, fruit and root development, as well as seed maturation and germination. Furthermore, epigenetic mechanisms have the potential to stabilize cell identity and maintain tissue organization. Hence, epigenetic diversity is now emerging as a new source of phenotypic variation to improve adaptation to changing environment and ensure yield and quality of crops. The 14 articles published in this Research Topic highlight recent progresses, opinions, and reviews to advance our knowledge in the role of the epigenome on controlling plant development, plant response to environmental stresses, and plant evolution. For instance, gene duplication and chromatin remodeling contribute to increase the morphological and cellular complexity of plants during their evolution according to Hajheidari et al.

Chromatin modifications, including DNA methylation and histone modifications, are critical in regulating gene transcription, and thus may reprogram cell differentiation and development (Inácio et al.; Zhang et al.; Hajheidari et al.). For instance, Inácio et al. immunolocalized various epigenetic marks and correlated epigenomic changes with transcriptional regulation when studying cork formation and quality in cork oak, a genuinely forest-specific process. Furthermore, changes in the acetylation levels of the lysine 9 of the histone H3 (H3K9) and lysine 5 of the histone H4 (H4K5) were found associated with the heat stress-dependent inhibition of lateral root formation in maize (Zhang et al.). Interestingly, whereas a global increase in histone acetylation was observed in response to heat stress, H3K9 and H4K5 acetylation decreased significantly in the promoter region of the haem oxygenase-1 (ZmHO-1) and giberellic acid–stimula ted like-1 (ZmGSL-1) genes, two inhibitors of lateral root forma tion (Zhang et al.).