Fulbright, plant memory, epigenetic regulation, lamarck theory
Plants are sessile organisms; they cannot move like animals when the environment is not favorable. Therefore, plants need a mechanism to cope with environmental changes. For example, when a plant experiences stress, like water deficit, it will employ a certain mechanism that allows the plant to survive the next exposure (see Fig. 1), often referred to as “Epigenetic” regulation. By application, epigenetics deals with the changes of the level of the gene expression without change in the DNA sequence, by DNA methylation, histone modifications, and or small RNA regulation. Plant epigenetic regulation is related to the Lamarckian theory of evolution. Lamarck’s (1744 – 1829) discredited theory of how transgenerational memory could be passed down through generations became one possible explanation for how plants become more resistant to future stress through acquisition of memory (see Fig. 2). Basically, an unnecessary gene (stress gene) is turned off. However, during stress, plant cells need to reactivate the genes by removing silencing marks, but the longer it is activated, the more prone the plant is to stress. The learning process can be induced and referred as priming. In the basic mechanism of priming, the histone demethylase enzyme unwinds the specific DNA regions that contain stress genes and remove the silent marks; thus it can be expressed more rapidly to tackle unfavorable condition compare to unprimed plants (consult the Figure 3). Remarkably, this working model of epigenetic transgenerational memory has also been applied for generating resistant plants with the same epigenetic mark by tissue culture propagation technique, which had been impossible to achieve previously (see Figure 4).
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Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State
The author would like to acknowledge fulbright U.S Student Program, IIE (The Power of International Education), Syracuse University English Language Institute, AMINEF (American Indonesian Exchange Foundation)
Susanto, Febri Adi, "Epigenetic Regulation on Plant Stress Memory" (2019). English Language Institute. 4.
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