Epigenetic regulation of thermomorphogenesis and heat stress tolerance

Giorgio Perrella, Isabel Bäurle, Martijn van Zanten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Many environmental conditions fluctuate and organisms need to respond effectively. This is especially true for temperature cues that can change in minutes to seasons and often follow a diurnal rhythm. Plants cannot migrate and most cannot regulate their temperature. Therefore, a broad array of responses have evolved to deal with temperature cues from freezing to heat stress. A particular response to mildly elevated temperatures is called thermomorphogenesis, a suite of morphological adaptations that includes thermonasty, formation of thin leaves and elongation growth of petioles and hypocotyl. Thermomorphogenesis allows for optimal performance in suboptimal temperature conditions by enhancing the cooling capacity. When temperatures rise further, heat stress tolerance mechanisms can be induced that enable the plant to survive the stressful temperature, which typically comprises cellular protection mechanisms and memory thereof. Induction of thermomorphogenesis, heat stress tolerance and stress memory depend on gene expression regulation, governed by diverse epigenetic processes. In this Tansley review we update on the current knowledge of epigenetic regulation of heat stress tolerance and elevated temperature signalling and response, with a focus on thermomorphogenesis regulation and heat stress memory. In particular we highlight the emerging role of H3K4 methylation marks in diverse temperature signalling pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1144-1160
Number of pages17
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • chromatin remodelling
  • elevated temperature
  • epigenetics
  • heat stress
  • histone modification
  • memory
  • temperature response
  • thermomorphogenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Epigenetic regulation of thermomorphogenesis and heat stress tolerance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this