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Special Issue "Role of Epigenetic Mechanisms in Plants: From Basic to Applicative Aspects"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Plant Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Maria Beatrice Bitonti
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Università della Calabria, Cosenza, Italy
Interests: cell commitment and differentiation; plant development; plant growth plasticity; plant stress response; gene expression; DNA methylation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Plant genomics is a branch of biology which aims to explore all the aspects of an entire genome, from genetic composition to structure, from organization to functions, and genetic connections. Currently, the advance of ‘omics’ technologies and bioinformatics tools have largely contributed to dissecting the genetic architecture of plant genomes and also to identifying key genes and their combinatorial interaction in plant growth and development. The recent new approaches on genome editing have further enriched this expanding field. Moreover, in recent years, an enhanced focus has been paid to understanding epigenetics and genome-wide distribution of epigenetic changes, which appears essential for dissecting all aspects of genetic studies.

Epigenetics refers to all molecular pathways which determine changes in genome structure and activity without alteration in the DNA sequence, resulting in stable heritable and nonheritable phenotypes. Overall, these pathways act through chromatin remodeling processes tracing the chromatin/epigenetic landscape of the genome (epigenome). Moreover, they interplay with each other rather than working separately and contribute to the control of several nuclear processes, such as DNA transcription, replication, recombination, and repair.

Typically, epigenetic machinery includes variants and post-translational modifications of histones, covalent modifications of DNA bases, like cytosine methylation, and biogenesis of noncoding RNAs, including long and short noncoding RNAs. However, the epigenomics field is ever-broadening, and new epigenetic/epitranscriptomic changes have been identified in all the kingdoms of living organisms, involving a network of chromatin-modifying enzymes, chromatin remodeling complexes, signaling kinases, and also cellular metabolism.

The currently available literature has evidenced that naturally occurring epigenetic processes are essential for defining cell identities and regulating several functions of living organisms which can be adversely affected when they occur incorrectly. This is particularly documented in animal systems by advanced research carried out in the field of human health. Consistently, in plant the epigenetic processes, in addition to playing a role in heritable genetic diversity and evolution, are essential for growth and development. Moreover, epigenetic changes can also arise under the influence of the environment and be connected to or driven by biotic and abiotic agents, thus contributing to plant growth plasticity and stress response. However, despite all this information, many aspects of the molecular and cellular mechanisms which operate in and are modulated by epigenetic processes in plants need to be clarified.

This Special issue will collect meaningful original research, reviews, and perspectives related to all these aspects of plant epigenetics. Contributions dealing with the potential of epigenetic variations for planning new crop-improvement strategies and plant biotechnologies will also be welcome.

Dr. M. Beatrice Bitonti
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • DNA methylation
  • histone modifications
  • noncoding RNAs
  • plant evolution
  • plant development and differentiation
  • plant growth plasticity
  • plant stress response
  • crop improvement
  • biotechnological strategies

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessReview
Epigenetic Regulation of Auxin-Induced Somatic Embryogenesis in Plants
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(7), 2307; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21072307 (registering DOI) - 26 Mar 2020
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Analysis of the DNA methylation status in a white poplar monoclonal population investigated by means of MSAP-NGS technology.

Authors: Castiglione S. et al.


Title: Plant Elongator – protein complex of diverse activities regulates growth, development and immune responses”. 

Authors: Magdalena Jarosz, Magdalena Woloszynska


Title: Differences in the antioxidant machinery efficiency towards cadmium stress in Arabidopsis thaliana  and its hypomethylated triple mutant (drm1-drm2-cmt3): a physiological and omic approach.

Authors: Pacenza M., et al.  

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