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Nat Plants. 2016 Jan 6;2:15190. doi: 10.1038/nplants.2015.190.

Molecular and genetic control of plant thermomorphogenesis.

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Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Betty-Heimann Strasse 5, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany.
Department of Molecular Signal Processing, Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry, Weinberg 3, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany.
School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TQ, United Kingdom.
The Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1LR, United Kingdom.
Synthetic and Systems Biology (SynthSys), University of Edinburgh, CH Waddington Building, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JD, United Kingdom.
Molecular Plant Physiology, Institute of Environmental Biology, Utrecht University, Padualaan 8, 3584CH Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Temperature is a major factor governing the distribution and seasonal behaviour of plants. Being sessile, plants are highly responsive to small differences in temperature and adjust their growth and development accordingly. The suite of morphological and architectural changes induced by high ambient temperatures, below the heat-stress range, is collectively called thermomorphogenesis. Understanding the molecular genetic circuitries underlying thermomorphogenesis is particularly relevant in the context of climate change, as this knowledge will be key to rational breeding for thermo-tolerant crop varieties. Until recently, the fundamental mechanisms of temperature perception and signalling remained unknown. Our understanding of temperature signalling is now progressing, mainly by exploiting the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The transcription factor PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4) has emerged as a critical player in regulating phytohormone levels and their activity. To control thermomorphogenesis, multiple regulatory circuits are in place to modulate PIF4 levels, activity and downstream mechanisms. Thermomorphogenesis is integrally governed by various light signalling pathways, the circadian clock, epigenetic mechanisms and chromatin-level regulation. In this Review, we summarize recent progress in the field and discuss how the emerging knowledge in Arabidopsis may be transferred to relevant crop systems.

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