Can Epigenetics Help Forest Plants to Adapt to Climate Change?

  • Jesús Pascual
  • María Jesús Cañal
  • Barbara Correia
  • Mónica Escandon
  • Rodrigo Hasbún
  • Mónica Meijón
  • Gloria Pinto
  • Luis Valledor


Forest trees, as long-lived sessile organisms, have to rapidly and reversibly adapt to different unfavorable environments (seasons, periods of extreme weather, etc.) in order to maintain their growth and dispersion capacities. In this context, epigenetic regulation and its underlying mechanisms seem to have a crucial role as a linker between the environment and the genome, being involved in the regulation of leaf development, floral transition, dormancy, and the responses to several abiotic stresses. Environmental stresses can also induce epigenetic marks that can be inherited as a pre adaption by subsequent generations as a form of maternal effect also called epigenetic memory. This memory, together with the natural epigenetic variation, is responsible for some phenotype variation and adaptation capacity to new environmental niches that recently became to be explored as a very promising way to obtain progenies pre-adapted to different environmental conditions. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the epigenetic mechanisms related to abiotic stress adaption in forest trees, considering their possible role as a new tool for plant biotechnology and ecosystem conservation.


Forest trees Epigenetic memory Environmental stress Abiotic stress response Memory stress Conifers 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jesús Pascual
    • 1
  • María Jesús Cañal
    • 1
  • Barbara Correia
    • 2
  • Mónica Escandon
    • 1
  • Rodrigo Hasbún
    • 3
  • Mónica Meijón
    • 4
  • Gloria Pinto
    • 2
  • Luis Valledor
    • 2
  1. 1.Plant PhysiologyUniversity of OviedoOviedoSpain
  2. 2.Department of Biology and CESAMUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  3. 3.Faculty of Forest SciencesUniversity of ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  4. 4.Regional Institute for Research and Agro-Food Development (SERIDA), Finca Experimental la Mata-GradoAsturiasSpain

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