In contrast to animals, adult organs in plants are not formed during embryogenesis but generated from meristematic cells as plants advance through development. Plant development involves a succession of different phenotypic stages and the transition between these stages is termed phase transition. Phase transitions need to be tightly regulated and coordinated to ensure they occur under optimal seasonal, environmental conditions. Polycarpic perennials transition through vegetative stages and the mature, reproductive stage many times during their lifecycles and, in both perennial and annual species, environmental factors and culturing methods can reverse the otherwise unidirectional vector of plant development. Epigenetic factors regulating gene expression in response to internal cues and external (environmental) stimuli influencing the plant’s phenotype and development have been shown to control phase transitions. How developmental and environmental cues interact to epigenetically alter gene expression and influence these transitions is not well understood, and understanding this interaction is important considering the current climate change scenarios, since epigenetic maladaptation could have catastrophic consequences for perennial plants in natural and agricultural ecosystems. Here, we review studies focusing on the epigenetic regulators of the vegetative phase change and highlight how these mechanisms might act in exogenously induced plant rejuvenation and regrowth following stress.

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Published in Epigenomes, v. 5, issue 4, 24.

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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C.M.R.L. is partially supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, AFRI Competitive Grant Program Accession number 1018617 and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture, Hatch Program accession number 1020852.

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