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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2016 Aug 4;54:579-603. doi: 10.1146/annurev-phyto-080615-100308.

DNA Methylation and Demethylation in Plant Immunity.

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Institut de Biologie de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unité Mixte de Recherche 8197, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 1024, PSL Research University, 75005 Paris, France; email:


Detection of plant and animal pathogens triggers a massive transcriptional reprogramming, which is directed by chromatin-based processes, and ultimately results in antimicrobial immunity. Although the implication of histone modifications in orchestrating biotic stress-induced transcriptional reprogramming has been well characterized, very little was known, until recently, about the role of DNA methylation and demethylation in this process. In this review, we summarize recent findings on the dynamics and biological relevance of DNA methylation and demethylation in plant immunity against nonviral pathogens. In particular, we report the implications of these epigenetic regulatory processes in the transcriptional and co-transcriptional control of immune-responsive genes and discuss their relevance in fine-tuning antimicrobial immune responses. Finally, we discuss the possible yet elusive role of DNA methylation and demethylation in systemic immune responses, transgenerational immune priming, and de novo epiallelism, which could be adaptive.


DNA demethylation; DNA methylation; RdDM; plant immunity; priming

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