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G3 (Bethesda). 2016 Dec 7;6(12):4009-4022. doi: 10.1534/g3.116.033860.

Epigenetic Control of Phenotypic Plasticity in the Filamentous Fungus Neurospora crassa.

Author information

1
Centre of Excellence in Biological Interactions, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, FI-40014, Finland ilkka.kronholm@jyu.fi.
2
Department of Organismal Biology, University of Uppsala, 752 36, Sweden.
3
Centre of Excellence in Biological Interactions, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, FI-40014, Finland.

Abstract

Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of a genotype to produce different phenotypes under different environmental or developmental conditions. Phenotypic plasticity is a ubiquitous feature of living organisms, and is typically based on variable patterns of gene expression. However, the mechanisms by which gene expression is influenced and regulated during plastic responses are poorly understood in most organisms. While modifications to DNA and histone proteins have been implicated as likely candidates for generating and regulating phenotypic plasticity, specific details of each modification and its mode of operation have remained largely unknown. In this study, we investigated how epigenetic mechanisms affect phenotypic plasticity in the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa By measuring reaction norms of strains that are deficient in one of several key physiological processes, we show that epigenetic mechanisms play a role in homeostasis and phenotypic plasticity of the fungus across a range of controlled environments. In general, effects on plasticity are specific to an environment and mechanism, indicating that epigenetic regulation is context dependent and is not governed by general plasticity genes. Specifically, we found that, in Neurospora, histone methylation at H3K36 affected plastic response to high temperatures, H3K4 methylation affected plastic response to pH, but H3K27 methylation had no effect. Similarly, DNA methylation had only a small effect in response to sucrose. Histone deacetylation mainly decreased reaction norm elevation, as did genes involved in histone demethylation and acetylation. In contrast, the RNA interference pathway was involved in plastic responses to multiple environments.

KEYWORDS:

DNA methylation; RNA interference; fungi; histone deacetylation; histone methylation; reaction norm

PMID:
27694114
PMCID:
PMC5144970
DOI:
10.1534/g3.116.033860
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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