Abstract Detail

Plant epigenetics: phenotypic and functional diversity beyond the DNA sequence

Verhoeven, Koen [1], van Antro, Morgane [1], Peña Ponton, Cristian [1], Gawehns, Fleur [2].

Environmental dynamics of DNA methylation in asexually reproducing plants .

Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation are thought to mediate stable and potentially long-term responses to environmental stimuli. Transgenerational stability of environment-induced DNA methylation modifications is counteracted by epigenetic resetting that takes place in germlines and early embryonic development. However, many plant species and crops reproduce asexually, either facultative or obligate, and bypass male germlines (apomixis / parthenogenesis) or both male and female germlines (clonal vegetative propagation) between asexual generations. This may set the stage for transgenerational stability of DNA methylation modifications in asexual lineages. However, the environmental and transgenerational dynamics of DNA methylation in asexual plants is not well characterized. Here I will show results on within-generation and transgenerational effects of experimental stress treatments on gene expression and DNA methylation (from reduced-representation and whole-genome bisulfite sewuencing) in a number of asexual plant species. These include clonally reproducing duckweed (Lemna minor), which lends itself well to long-term transgenerational experiments due to very short clonal generation times; apomictic common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale); and black poplar (Populus nigra) which is propagated through cuttings. While characteristics of the DNA methylation response differ between the species, a common result is that inherited DNA methylation effects are detectable in CHG sequence motifs; this is most pronounced in clonal duckweed. These results provide basic insight in the potential of DNA methylation to mediate variation in asexual plant lineages. Functionality of inherited DNA methylation for genes and traits is typically undemonstrated; I will discuss some opportunities and limitations to the interpretation of observed DNA methylation variation in asexual lineages.

1 - Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Terrestrial Ecology, Droevendaalsesteeg 10, Wageningen, 6708 PB, Netherlands
2 - Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Bioinformatics Unit, Droevendaalsesteeg 10, Wageningen, 6708 PB, Netherlands

DNA methylation
Asexual Reproduction
Transgenerational memory

Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SY1, Plant epigenetics: phenotypic and functional diversity beyond the DNA sequence
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2020
Time: 10:15 AM
Number: SY1002
Abstract ID:707
Candidate for Awards:None

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