Epigenetic Basis of Morphological Variation and Phenotypic Plasticity in Arabidopsis thaliana

R. Kooke, F. Johannes, R. Wardenaar, F.F.M. Becker, M. Etcheverry, V. Colot, D. Vreugdenhil, J.J.B. Keurentjes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

151 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Epigenetics is receiving growing attention in the plant science community. Epigenetic modifications are thought to play a particularly important role in fluctuating environments. It is hypothesized that epigenetics contributes to plant phenotypic plasticity because epigenetic modifications, in contrast to DNA sequence variation, are more likely to be reversible. The population of decrease in DNA methylation 1-2 (ddm1-2)-derived epigenetic recombinant inbred lines (epiRILs) in Arabidopsis thaliana is well suited for studying this hypothesis, as DNA methylation differences are maximized and DNA sequence variation is minimized. Here, we report on the extensive heritable epigenetic variation in plant growth and morphology in neutral and saline conditions detected among the epiRILs. Plant performance, in terms of branching and leaf area, was both reduced and enhanced by different quantitative trait loci (QTLs) in the ddm1-2 inherited epigenotypes. The variation in plasticity associated significantly with certain genomic regions in which the ddm1-2 inherited epigenotypes caused an increased sensitivity to environmental changes, probably due to impaired genetic regulation in the epiRILs. Many of the QTLs for morphology and plasticity overlapped, suggesting major pleiotropic effects. These findings indicate that epigenetics contributes substantially to variation in plant growth, morphology, and plasticity, especially under stress conditions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-348
JournalThe Plant Cell
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • quantitative trait loci
  • dna methylation
  • transcription factor
  • qtl analysis
  • population
  • plant
  • inheritance
  • stability
  • evolution
  • performance

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