Nitrogen (N) deficiency is one of the major stresses that crops are exposed to. It is plausible to suppose that a stress condition can induce a memory in plants that might prime the following generations. Here, an experimental setup that considered four successive generations of N-sufficient and N-limited Arabidopsis was used to evaluate the existence of a transgenerational memory. The results demonstrated that the ability to take up high amounts of nitrate is induced more quickly as a result of multigenerational stress exposure. This behavior was paralleled by changes in the expression of nitrate responsive genes. RNAseq analyses revealed the enduring modulation of genes in downstream generations, despite the lack of stress stimulus in these plants. The modulation of signaling and transcription factors, such as NIGTs
might indicate that there is a complex network operating to maintain the expression of N-responsive genes, such as NRT2.1
. This behavior indicates a rapid acclimation of plants to changes in N availability. Indeed, when fourth generation plants were exposed to N limitation, they showed a rapid induction of N-deficiency responses. This suggests the possible involvement of a transgenerational memory in Arabidopsis that allows plants to adapt efficiently to the environment and this gives an edge to the next generation that presumably will grow in similar stressful conditions.
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