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PLoS One. 2010 Apr 26;5(4):e10326. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010326.

Epigenetic variation in mangrove plants occurring in contrasting natural environment.

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  • 1Diretoria de Pesquisa Científica, Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Epigenetic modifications, such as cytosine methylation, are inherited in plant species and may occur in response to biotic or abiotic stress, affecting gene expression without changing genome sequence. Laguncularia racemosa, a mangrove species, occurs in naturally contrasting habitats where it is subjected daily to salinity and nutrient variations leading to morphological differences. This work aims at unraveling how CpG-methylation variation is distributed among individuals from two nearby habitats, at a riverside (RS) or near a salt marsh (SM), with different environmental pressures and how this variation is correlated with the observed morphological variation.

PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

Significant differences were observed in morphological traits such as tree height, tree diameter, leaf width and leaf area between plants from RS and SM locations, resulting in smaller plants and smaller leaf size in SM plants. Methyl-Sensitive Amplified Polymorphism (MSAP) was used to assess genetic and epigenetic (CpG-methylation) variation in L. racemosa genomes from these populations. SM plants were hypomethylated (14.6% of loci had methylated samples) in comparison to RS (32.1% of loci had methylated samples). Within-population diversity was significantly greater for epigenetic than genetic data in both locations, but SM also had less epigenetic diversity than RS. Frequency-based (G(ST)) and multivariate (beta(ST)) methods that estimate population structure showed significantly greater differentiation among locations for epigenetic than genetic data. Co-Inertia analysis, exploring jointly the genetic and epigenetic data, showed that individuals with similar genetic profiles presented divergent epigenetic profiles that were characteristic of the population in a particular environment, suggesting that CpG-methylation changes may be associated with environmental heterogeneity.

CONCLUSIONS:

In spite of significant morphological dissimilarities, individuals of L. racemosa from salt marsh and riverside presented little genetic but abundant DNA methylation differentiation, suggesting that epigenetic variation in natural plant populations has an important role in helping individuals to cope with different environments.

PMID:
20436669
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2859934
Free PMC Article
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