As sessile organisms, plants are exposed to environmental stresses throughout their life. They have developed survival strategies such as developmental and morphological adaptations, as well as physiological responses, to protect themselves from adverse environments. In addition, stress sensing triggers large-scale transcriptional reprogramming directed at minimizing the deleterious effect of water stress on plant cells. Here, we review recent findings that reveal a role of chromatin in water stress responses. In addition, we discuss data in support of the idea that chromatin remodelling and modifying enzymes may be direct targets of stress signalling pathways. Modulation of chromatin regulator activity by these signaling pathways may be critical in minimizing potential trade-offs between growth and stress responses. Alterations in the chromatin organization and/or in the activity of chromatin remodelling and modifying enzymes may furthermore contribute to stress memory. Mechanistic insight into these phenomena derived from studies in model plant systems should allow future engineering of broadly drought-tolerant crop plants that do not incur unnecessary losses in yield or growth.
Han, Soon-KiWagner, DorisJ Exp Bot. 2013 Dec 3.