Epigenetic variation, inheritance, and parent-of-origin effects of cytosine methylation in maize (Zea mays).
ABSTRACT: Pure epigenetic variation, or epigenetic variation that is independent of genetic context, may provide a mechanism for phenotypic variation in the absence of DNA mutations. To estimate the extent of pure epigenetic variation within and across generations and to identify the DNA regions targeted, a group of eight plants derived from a highly inbred line of maize (Zea mays) was analyzed by the methylation-sensitive amplified polymorphism (MSAP) technique. We found that cytosine methylation (mC) differences among individuals accounted for up to 7.4% of CCGG sites investigated by MSAP. Of the differentially methylated fragments (DMFs) identified in the S0 generation, ?12% were meiotically inherited for at least six generations. We show that meiotically heritable mC variation was consistently generated for an average of 0.5% CCGG sites per generation and that it largely occurred somatically. We provide evidence that mC variation can be established and inherited in a parent-of-origin manner, given that the paternal lineage is more prone to both forward and reverse mC changes. The molecular characterization of selected DMFs revealed that the variation was largely determined by CG methylation changes that map within gene regions. The expression analysis of genes overlapping with DMFs did not reveal an obvious correlation between mC variation and transcription, reinforcing the idea that the primary function of gene-body methylation is not to control gene expression. Because this study focuses on epigenetic variation in field-grown plants, the data presented herein pertain to spontaneous epigenetic changes of the maize genome in a natural context.
Project description:The genetic structure and differentiation of wild emmer wheat suggests that genetic diversity is eco-geographically structured. However, very little is known about the structure and extent of the heritable epigenetic variation and its influence on local adaptation in natural populations.The structure and extent of the heritable methylation-based epigenetic variation were assessed within and among natural populations of Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides. We used methylation sensitive amplified polymorphism (MSAP) and transposon methylation display (TMD) techniques, to assess the methylation status of random genomic CCGG sites and CCGG sites flanking transposable elements (TEs), respectively. Both techniques were applied to the DNA of 50 emmer accessions which were collected from five different geographically isolated regions. In order to ensure the assessment of heritable epigenetic variation, all accessions were grown under common garden conditions for two generations. In all accessions, the difference in methylation levels of CCGG sites, including CCGG sites that flanked TEs, were not statistically significant and relatively high, ranging between 46 and 76 %. The pattern of methylation was significantly different among accessions, such that clear and statistically significant population-specific methylation patterns were observed.In this study, we have observed population-unique heritable methylation patterns in emmer wheat accessions originating from five geographically isolated regions. Our data indicate that methylation-based epigenetic diversity might be eco-geographically structured and might be partly determined by climatic and edaphic factors.
Project description:DNA methylation is an integral component of the epigenetic code in most higher eukaryotes. Exploring the extent to which DNA methylation can be altered under a specific condition and its heritability is important for elucidating the biological functions of this epigenetic modification. Here, we conducted MSAP analysis of rice plants with altered phenotypes subsequent to a low-dose Nd3+YAG laser irradiation. We found that all four methylation patterns at the 5'-CCGG sites that are analyzable by MSAP showed substantial changes in the immediately treated M0 plants. Interestingly, the frequencies of hypo- and hypermethylation were of similar extents, which largely offset each other and render the total methylation levels unchanged. Further analysis revealed that the altered methylation patterns were meiotically heritable to at least the M2 generation but accompanied with further changes in each generation. The methylation changes and their heritability of the metastable epigenetic state were verified by bisulfite sequencing of portion of the retrotranspon, Tos17, an established locus for assessing DNA methylation liability in rice. Real-time PCR assay indicated that the expression of various methylation-related chromatin genes was perturbed, and a Pearson correlation analysis showed that many of these genes, especially two AGOs (AGO4-1 and AGO4-2), were significantly correlated with the methylation pattern alterations. In addition, excisions of a MITE transposon, mPing, occurred rampantly in the laser irradiated plants and their progenies. Together, our results indicate that heritable DNA methylation changes can be readily induced by low-dose laser irradiation, and which can be accompanied by transpostional activation of transposable elements.
Project description:Epigenetic inheritance was transmitted through selection over five generations of extreme early, but not late flowering time phenotypic lines in Fragaria vesca. Epigenetic variation was initially artificially induced using the DNA demethylation reagent 5-azacytidine (5-azaC). It is the first report to explore epigenetic variant selection and phenotypic trait inheritance in strawberry. Transmission frequency of these traits was determined across generations. The early flowering (EF4) and late stolon (LS) phenotypic traits were successfully transmitted across five and three generations through meiosis, respectively. Stable mitotic transmission of the early flowering phenotype was also demonstrated using clonal daughters derived from the 4th Generation (S4) mother plant. In order to further explore the DNA methylation patterns underlying the early flowering trait, the standard MSAP method using isoschizomers Hpa II/Msp I, and newly modified MSAP method using isoschizomers Tfi I/Pfe I which detected DNA methylation at CG, CHG, CHH sites were used in two early flowering lines, EF lines 1 (P2) and EF lines 2 (P3), and control lines (P1). A significant reduction in the number of fully-methylated bands was detected in P2 and P3 when compared to P1 using the novel MSAP method. In the standard MSAP, the symmetric CG and CHG methylation was maintained over generations in the early flowering lines based on the clustering in P2 and P3, the novel MSAP approach revealed the asymmetric CHH methylation pattern was not maintained over generations. This study provides evidence of stable selection of phenotypic traits, particularly early flowering through both meiosis and mitosis, which is meaningful to both breeding programs and commercial horticulture. The maintenance in CG and CHG methylation over generations suggests the early flowering phenotype might be related to DNA methylation alterations at the CG or CHG sites. Finally, this work provides a new approach for studying the role of epigenetics on complex quantitative trait improvement in strawberry, as well as providing a tool to expand phenotypic diversity and expedite potential new horticulture cultivar releases through either seed or vegetative propagation.
Project description:BACKGROUND: DNA methylation plays a key role in development, contributes to genome stability, and may also respond to external factors supporting adaptation and evolution. To connect different types of stimuli with particular biological processes, identifying genome regions with altered 5-methylcytosine distribution at a genome-wide scale is important. Many researchers are using the simple, reliable, and relatively inexpensive Methylation Sensitive Amplified Polymorphism (MSAP) method that is particularly useful in studies of epigenetic variation. However, electrophoretic patterns produced by the method are rather difficult to interpret, particularly when MspI and HpaII isoschizomers are used because these enzymes are methylation-sensitive, and any C within the CCGG recognition motif can be methylated in plant DNA. RESULTS: Here, we evaluate MSAP patterns with respect to current knowledge of the enzyme activities and the level and distribution of 5-methylcytosine in plant and vertebrate genomes. We discuss potential caveats related to complex MSAP patterns and provide clues regarding how to interpret them. We further show that addition of combined HpaII?+?MspI digestion would assist in the interpretation of the most controversial MSAP pattern represented by the signal in the HpaII but not in the MspI profile. CONCLUSIONS: We recommend modification of the MSAP protocol that definitely discerns between putative hemimethylated mCCGG and internal CmCGG sites. We believe that our view and the simple improvement will assist in correct MSAP data interpretation.
Project description:Despite the importance of assessing the stability of epigenetic variation in non-model organisms living in real-world scenarios, no studies have been conducted on the transgenerational persistence of epigenetic structure in wild plant populations. This gap in knowledge is hindering progress in the interpretation of natural epigenetic variation. By applying the methylation-sensitive amplified fragment length polymorphism (MSAP) technique to paired plant-pollen (i.e., sporophyte-male gametophyte) DNA samples, and then comparing methylation patterns and epigenetic population differentiation in sporophytes and their descendant gametophytes, we investigated transgenerational constancy of epigenetic structure in three populations of the perennial herb Helleborus foetidus (Ranunculaceae). Single-locus and multilocus analyses revealed extensive epigenetic differentiation between sporophyte populations. Locus-by-locus comparisons of methylation status in individual sporophytes and descendant gametophytes showed that ~75% of epigenetic markers persisted unchanged through gametogenesis. In spite of some epigenetic reorganization taking place during gametogenesis, multilocus epigenetic differentiation between sporophyte populations was preserved in the subsequent gametophyte stage. In addition to illustrating the efficacy of applying the MSAP technique to paired plant-pollen DNA samples to investigate epigenetic gametic inheritance in wild plants, this paper suggests that epigenetic differentiation between adult plant populations of H. foetidus is likely to persist across generations.
Project description:Epigenetic information, which may affect an organism's phenotype, can be stored and stably inherited in the form of cytosine DNA methylation. Changes in DNA methylation can produce meiotically stable epialleles that affect transcription and morphology, but the rates of spontaneous gain or loss of DNA methylation are unknown. We examined spontaneously occurring variation in DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana plants propagated by single-seed descent for 30 generations. We identified 114,287 CG single methylation polymorphisms and 2485 CG differentially methylated regions (DMRs), both of which show patterns of divergence compared with the ancestral state. Thus, transgenerational epigenetic variation in DNA methylation may generate new allelic states that alter transcription, providing a mechanism for phenotypic diversity in the absence of genetic mutation.
Project description:Hybridization and polyploidization may lead to divergence in adaptation and boost speciation in angiosperms and some lower animals. Epigenetic change plays a significant role in the formation and adaptation of polyploidy. Studies of the effects of methylation on genomic recombination and gene expression in allopolyploid plants have achieved good progress. However, relevant advances in polyploid animals have been relatively slower. In the present study, we used the bisexual, fertile, genetically stable allotetraploid generated by hybridization of Carassius auratus red var. and Cyprinus carpio L. to investigate cytosine methylation level using methylation-sensitive amplification polymorphism (MSAP) analysis. We observed 38.31% of the methylation changes in the allotetraploid compared with the parents at 355 randomly selected CCGG sites. In terms of methylation status, these results indicate that the level of methylation modification in the allotetraploid may have increased relative to that in the parents. We also found that the major methylation changes were hypermethylation on some genomic fragments and genes related to metabolism or cell cycle regulation. These results provide circumstantial evidence that DNA methylation might be related to the gene expression and phenotype variation in allotetraploid hybrids. Our study partly fulfils the need for epigenetic research in polyploid animals, and provides evidence for the epigenetic regulation of allopolyploids.
Project description:Allopolyploidization plays an important role in speciation, and some natural or synthetic allopolyploid fishes have been extensively applied to aquaculture. Although genetic and epigenetic inheritance and variation associated with plant allopolyploids have been well documented, the relative research in allopolyploid animals is scarce. In this study, the genome constitution and DNA methylation inheritance in a newly synthetic allopolyploid of gynogenetic gibel carp were analyzed. The incorporation of a whole genome of paternal common carp sperm in the allopolyploid was confirmed by genomic in situ hybridization, chromosome localization of 45S rDNAs, and sequence comparison. Pooled sample-based methylation sensitive amplified polymorphism (MSAP) revealed that an overwhelming majority (98.82%) of cytosine methylation patterns in the allopolyploid were inherited from its parents of hexaploid gibel carp clone D and common carp. Compared to its parents, 11 DNA fragments in the allopolyploid were proved to be caused by interindividual variation, recombination, deletion, and mutation through individual sample-based MSAP and sequencing. Contrast to the rapid and remarkable epigenetic changes in most of analyzed neopolyploids, no cytosine methylation variation was detected in the gynogenetic allopolyploid. Therefore, the newly synthetic allopolyploid of gynogenetic gibel carp combined genomes from its parents and maintained genetic and epigenetic stability after its formation and subsequently seven successive gynogenetic generations. Our current results provide a paradigm for recurrent polyploidy consequences in the gynogenetic allopolyploid animals.
Project description:DNA methylation is one of the mechanisms underlying epigenetic modifications. DNA methylations can be environmentally induced and such induced modifications can at times be transmitted to successive generations. However, it remains speculative how common such environmentally induced transgenerational DNA methylation changes are and if they persist for more than one offspring generation. We exposed multiple accessions of two different apomictic dandelion lineages of the Taraxacum officinale group (Taraxacum alatum and T. hemicyclum) to drought and salicylic acid (SA) treatment. Using methylation-sensitive amplified fragment length polymorphism markers (MS-AFLPs) we screened anonymous methylation changes at CCGG restriction sites throughout the genome after stress treatments and assessed the heritability of induced changes for two subsequent unexposed offspring generations. Irrespective of the initial stress treatment, a clear buildup of heritable DNA methylation variation was observed across three generations, indicating a considerable background rate of heritable epimutations. Less evidence was detected for environmental effects. Drought stress showed some evidence for accession-specific methylation changes, but only in the exposed generation and not in their offspring. By contrast, SA treatment caused an increased rate of methylation change in offspring of treated plants. These changes were seemingly undirected resulting in increased transgenerational epigenetic variation between offspring individuals, but not in predictable epigenetic variants. While the functional consequences of these MS-AFLP-detected DNA methylation changes remain to be demonstrated, our study shows that (1) stress-induced transgenerational DNA methylation modification in dandelions is genotype and context-specific; and (2) inherited environmental DNA methylation effects are mostly undirected and not targeted to specific loci.
Project description:Epigenetic diversity could play an important role in adaptive evolution of organisms, especially for plant species occurring in new and stressful environments. Thlaspi arvense (field pennycress), a valuable oilseed crop, is widespread in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. In this study, we investigated the effect of salinity stress on the epigenetic variation of DNA methylation and epigenetic stress memory in pennycress using methylation-sensitive amplification polymorphism (MSAP) markers. We examined how the status of DNA methylation changes across individuals in response to salinity stress and whether such an effect of maternal stress could be transferred to offspring for one or two generations in nonstressed environments. Our results based on 306 epiloci indicated no consistent change of DNA methylation status in specific epiloci across individuals within the same conditions. In contrast, we found that the epigenetic diversity at population level increased significantly in response to the stimulation of salinity stress; and this "stimulation effect" could be transferred partially in the form of stress memory to at least two generations of offspring in nonstressed environments. In addition, we observed a parallel change in functionally important traits, that is, phenotypic variation was significantly higher in plants grown under salinity stress compared with those of control groups. Taken together, our results provide novel clues for the increased spontaneous epimutation rate in response to stress in plants, of potential adaptive significance.