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Linking Climate Change and Environmental Stress with Epigenetics

The integration of environmental signals through the epigenome is a central question to understand environmentally mediated changes in gene expression and therefore cell and organismal function. There are many examples of environmental factors that can mediate changes in gene expression including diet, temperature changes, chemical pollutants and other external stress factors. Sub sequentially, such factors have been linked to the development of common diseases like diabetes and some forms of cancer. On a much larger scale, epigenetic processes play a key role in the ability of plants to acclimate and adapt to changing environments. In the light of climate change a better understanding of plant epigenetics is crucial for crop development and production. By combining genetic and biochemical approaches as well as phenotyping and environmental simulations we aim to decipher the epigenetic mechanisms that allow plants and other organisms to respond and adapt to biotic as well as abiotic factors.