Insights into chromatin structure and dynamics in plants

The packaging of chromatin into the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell requires an extraordinary degree of compaction and physical organization. In recent years, it has been shown that this organization is dynamically orchestrated to regulate responses to exogenous stimuli as well as to guide complex cell-type-specific developmental programs. Gene expression is regulated by the compartmentalization of functional domains within the nucleus, by distinct nucleosome compositions accomplished via differential modifications on the histone tails and through the replacement of core histones by histone variants. In this review, we focus on these aspects of chromatin organization and discuss novel approaches such as live cell imaging and photobleaching as important tools likely to give significant insights into our understanding of the very dynamic nature of chromatin and chromatin regulatory processes. We highlight the contribution plant studies have made in this area showing the potential advantages of plants as models in understanding this fundamental aspect of biology.