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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2017 Apr;36:56-63. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2017.01.005. Epub 2017 Feb 20.

The causes and consequences of DNA methylome variation in plants.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697, United States. Electronic address:
Department of Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, 72072 Tübingen, Germany; Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, 1030 Vienna, Austria. Electronic address:


Epigenetic variation - polymorphisms at the level of DNA methylation or histone modifications - modulates chromatin accessibility, which can perturb transcriptional activity and spur phenotypic variation. Determining the origin, frequency spectrum, and consequences of epigenetic variants is key to understanding the role of this variation in generating stable phenotypic variation in plants. Here we review recent literature on DNA methylation variation in both model and crop plant species with a focus on the link between genotype, epigenotype, and transcription. We highlight population epigenomics studies that explore the relationship between epigenetic variants and genetic diversity. Moreover, we provide an overview of relevant studies that together advocate a minor, albeit significant role for epigenetic variation in directing specific transcriptional changes.

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