Somatic embryogenesis (SE) that is induced in plant explants in response to auxin treatment is closely associated with an extensive genetic reprogramming of the cell transcriptome. The significant modulation of the gene transcription profiles during SE induction results from the epigenetic factors that fine-tune the gene expression towards embryogenic development. Among these factors, microRNA molecules (miRNAs) contribute to the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. In the past few years, several miRNAs that regulate the SE-involved transcription factors (TFs) have been identified, and most of them were involved in the auxin-related processes, including auxin metabolism and signaling. In addition to miRNAs, chemical modifications of DNA and chromatin, in particular the methylation of DNA and histones and histone acetylation, have been shown to shape the SE transcriptomes. In response to auxin, these epigenetic modifications regulate the chromatin structure, and hence essentially contribute to the control of gene expression during SE induction. In this paper, we describe the current state of knowledge with regard to the SE epigenome. The complex interactions within and between the epigenetic factors, the key SE TFs that have been revealed, and the relationships between the SE epigenome and auxin-related processes such as auxin perception, metabolism, and signaling are highlighted.
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