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Contribution of epigenetic variation to adaptation in Arabidopsis


Schmid, Marc W; Heichinger, Christian; Coman Schmid, Diana; Guthörl, Daniela; Gagliardini, Valeria; Bruggmann, Rémy; Aluri, Sirisha; Aquino, Catharine; Schmid, Bernhard; Turnbull, Lindsay A; Grossniklaus, Ueli (2018). Contribution of epigenetic variation to adaptation in Arabidopsis. Nature Communications, 9(1):4446.

Abstract

In plants, transgenerational inheritance of some epialleles has been demonstrated but it remains controversial whether epigenetic variation is subject to selection and contributes to adaptation. Simulating selection in a rapidly changing environment, we compare phenotypic traits and epigenetic variation between Arabidopsis thaliana populations grown for five generations under selection and their genetically nearly identical ancestors. Selected populations of two distinct genotypes show significant differences in flowering time and plant architecture, which are maintained for at least 2–3 generations in the absence of selection. While we cannot detect consistent genetic changes, we observe a reduction of epigenetic diversity and changes in the methylation state of about 50,000 cytosines, some of which are associated with phenotypic changes. Thus, we propose that epigenetic variation is subject to selection and can contribute to rapid adaptive responses, although the extent to which epigenetics plays a role in adaptation is still unclear.

Abstract

In plants, transgenerational inheritance of some epialleles has been demonstrated but it remains controversial whether epigenetic variation is subject to selection and contributes to adaptation. Simulating selection in a rapidly changing environment, we compare phenotypic traits and epigenetic variation between Arabidopsis thaliana populations grown for five generations under selection and their genetically nearly identical ancestors. Selected populations of two distinct genotypes show significant differences in flowering time and plant architecture, which are maintained for at least 2–3 generations in the absence of selection. While we cannot detect consistent genetic changes, we observe a reduction of epigenetic diversity and changes in the methylation state of about 50,000 cytosines, some of which are associated with phenotypic changes. Thus, we propose that epigenetic variation is subject to selection and can contribute to rapid adaptive responses, although the extent to which epigenetics plays a role in adaptation is still unclear.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Physics and Astronomy, General Chemistry
Language:English
Date:1 December 2018
Deposited On:30 Jan 2019 13:14
Last Modified:30 Jan 2019 14:23
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-06932-5

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