Root endophyte induced plant thermotolerance by constitutive chromatin modification at heat stress memory gene loci

Kirti Shekhawat, Maged Saad, Arsheed Hussain Sheikh, Kiruthiga Mariappan, Henda Al-Mahmoudi, fatimah abdulhakim, Abdul Aziz Eida, Rewaa S. Jalal, Khaled Masmoudi, Heribert Hirt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Global warming has become a critical challenge to food security, causing severe yield losses of major crops worldwide. Conventional and transgenic breeding strategies to enhance plant thermotolerance are laborious and expensive. Therefore, the use of beneficial microbes could be an alternative approach. Here, we report that the root endophyte Enterobacter sp. SA187 induces thermotolerance in wheat in the laboratory as well as in open-field agriculture. To unravel the molecular mechanisms, we used Arabidopsis thaliana as model plant. SA187 reprogramed the Arabidopsis transcriptome via HSFA2-dependent enhancement of H3K4me3 levels at heat stress memory gene loci. Unlike thermopriming, SA187-induced thermotolerance is mediated by ethylene signaling via the transcription factor EIN3. In contrast to the transient chromatin modification by thermopriming, SA187 induces constitutive H3K4me3 modification of heat stress memory genes, generating robust thermotolerance in plants. Importantly, microbial community composition of wheat plants in open-field agriculture is not influenced by SA187, indicating that beneficial microbes can be a powerful tool to enhance thermotolerance of crops in a sustainable manner.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEMBO reports
StatePublished - Jan 10 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-01-21
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): BAS/1/1062
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Dr. Ismahane Elouafi (ICBA) and Dr. Mohammad Shahid (ICBA) for the fruitful discussion and support during the field experiments as well as Dr. Marcela Herrera Sarrias and Dr. Manuel Aranda Lastra (KAUST) for guidance in the microbiome analysis. We would like to thank Dr. YY Charng for providing Arabidopsis seed mutants of hsfa2 and hsfa1-q. We thank Alexander Polussa for his technical support. We thank all members of the Hirt Lab, especially Dr. Naganand Rayapuram for his scientific suggestions and Olga Artyukh, the CDA management and greenhouse facility team of KAUST for the technical assistance. This publication is based upon work supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), base fund for HH no. BAS/1/1062-01-01.


Dive into the research topics of 'Root endophyte induced plant thermotolerance by constitutive chromatin modification at heat stress memory gene loci'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this