How do plants remember their stresses?
It was absurd to say plants have memory, but not anymore.
Actually, all living organisms on Earth, from bacteria to blue whales, must correctly process and remember critical environmental information to respond to changes in a manner conducive to survival and reproduction. For animals, which use the brain to store information, memory is taken for granted. Plant memory, however, easily goes unnoticed because people do not readily recognize its existence, perhaps due to the immobile lifestyle of plants. Recently, the scientific community has discovered that plants generally “remember” environmental adversity. Now work is underway to understand how plants can hold on to such “memory” without a brain. In particular, it is essential to know how plants maintain stress memory due to its possible effect on agricultural production in the face of climate change.
Dr. Yee-yung Charng, a Research Fellow who works on plant heat-stress response in the Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center, and his Ph.D. students, Suma Mitra and Shih-Jiun Yu, recently published a review paper in The Plant Cell that gives an overview of the research progress on plant abiotic stress memory. In the article, they summarize strategies for assessing abiotic stress memory in plants and propose guidelines to distinguish the role of the components involved in memory maintenance. Using heat acclimation as an example, they highlight regulatory circuits formed by the memory components and discussed their functions in maintaining memory.
The article can be found at: https://doi.org/10.1093/plcell/koac313
Yee-yung Charng, Suma Mitra, Shih-Jiun Yu, Maintenance of abiotic stress memory in plants: Lessons learned from heat acclimation, The Plant Cell, 2022;, koac313, https://doi.org/10.1093/plcell/koac313