Organisms are constantly exposed to a wide range of environmental changes, including both short-term changes during their lifetime and longer-term changes across generations. Stress-related gene expression programmes, characterized by distinct transcriptional mechanisms and high levels of noise in their expression patterns, need to be balanced with growth-related gene expression programmes. A range of recent studies give fascinating insight into cellular strategies for keeping gene expression in tune with physiological needs dictated by the environment, promoting adaptation to both short- and long-term environmental changes. Not only do organisms show great resilience to external challenges, but emerging data suggest that they also exploit these challenges to fuel phenotypic variation and evolutionary innovation.
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