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DNA methylation, an epigenetic mechanism, has recently been proposed to play a role in the successful expansion of asexual lineages. Epigenetics can generate heritable variation and could therefore enable asexual lineages, which have a limited adaptive potential, to deal with changing or novel environments. This hypothesis is currently largely untested. We study DNA methylations variation and its adaptive potential using range expanding dandelions. Apomictic dandelions colonized Northern Europe when the glaciers from the last ice age retreated, adapting to novel habitats at their migrating front. It was shown in previous greenhouse studies that stress generated DNA methylation variation in apomictic dandelions that were transmitted to the next generation (Verhoeven 2010). We propose that this epigenetic mechanism could also facilitate the adaptation to novel habitats involved in dandelion´s northward range shift. We documented patterns of standing genetic and epigenetic variation in apomictic dandelions, by screening AFLP and methylation sensitive (MS-)AFLP variation in the offspring of field-collected plants in populations sampled along a south-to-north transect of historical range expansion. The genetic as well as the epigenetic profile revealed a high within population diversity and some minor but significant regional differentiation. Our data does not show clear evidence for autonomy of epigenetic variation, the patterns may rather indicate environmental induction that is controlled genetically and/or spontaneously but stable epimutation differences building up between lineages.
|Publication status||Published - 2014|
|Event||PopBio Meeting 2014 - Konstanz, Germany|
Duration: 29 May 2014 → 31 May 2014
|Conference||PopBio Meeting 2014|
|Period||29/05/14 → 31/05/14|
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