Abstract Detail

Plant epigenetics: phenotypic and functional diversity beyond the DNA sequence

Alonso, Conchita [1], Boquete Seoane , M. Teresa [2], Muyle, Aline [3].

Plant epigenetics: phenotypic and functional diversity beyond the DNA sequence.

Plants have evolved and diversified after colonizing many different environments on Earth, even the most extreme ecological systems (e.g. the Poles, high altitude ecosystems, deserts, salt marshes and geothermal vents). However, the environmental changes taking place in the Anthropocene are challenging the capacity of plants to respond to the environment. Plants are faced with rapid shifts in climatic variables, together with a higher frequency of extreme and unpredictable climatic events. This situation is likely to favor epigenetic variation which can allow plants to rapidly adapt to new conditions.There is mounting evidence supporting that DNA sequence variation alone is not responsible for all standing phenotypic variation in plants, and that epigenetic variation is also related to extant phenotypic and functional diversity. 
Plant epigenetics is a dynamic and recent research field that studies the set of chromatin modifications that regulate the availability of the genome. These modifications, ranging from DNA methylation to histone chemical modifications and non-coding RNAs, determine how the genotype translates into a phenotype. The implementation of next generation sequencing techniques on a few model plants have significantly improved our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying epigenetic processes. We now know that epigenetic information is more flexible and dynamic compared to genetic information. This is due to the higher rate of mutation of epigenetic marks (called epimutation rate). Epigenetic marks have also been shown to be highly susceptible to environmental influence, while some epigenetic marks can be transmitted from parents to offspring, at least transiently. Thus, epigenetic variation could provide the substrate for phenotypic variation that, if visible to selection, could play a crucial role in rapid adaptive evolution. The study of this source of variation is thus instrumental to anticipate the probability of species continuity, and to design conservation actions under the prevailing context of global change. More studies are needed in a natural setting and on a wide phylogenetic context, in order to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the role of epigenetics in plant evolution and interaction with the environment. 
This symposium will present research spanning a broad range of topics within the field of plant epigenetics that are of general interest to most attendees of the Botany Conference. We have assembled a set of speakers that covers a range of career stages, diversity in gender, institutions, and approaches to tackle questions in this promising field. 

1 - Estacion Biologica de Doñana, CSIC, Evolutionary Ecology, Avda Americo Vespucio 26, Sevilla, E-41092, Spain
2 - Estación Biológica de Doñana-CSIC (EBD-CSIC), Department of Ecology and Evolution, Avda. Américo Vespucio 26, Sevilla, Andalucía, E-41092, Spain
3 - University of California, Irvine

none specified

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: 10:00 AM
Number: SY1SUM
Abstract ID:942
Candidate for Awards:None

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