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Ann Rev Mar Sci. 2019 Jan 3;11:335-368. doi: 10.1146/annurev-marine-010318-095114. Epub 2018 Jun 29.

Marine Environmental Epigenetics.

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Environmental Epigenetics Laboratory, Center for Coastal Oceans Research, Institute for Water and Environment, Florida International University, North Miami, Florida 33181, USA; email:
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island 02881, USA; email:


Marine organisms' persistence hinges on the capacity for acclimatization and adaptation to the myriad of interacting environmental stressors associated with global climate change. In this context, epigenetics-mechanisms that facilitate phenotypic variation through genotype-environment interactions-are of great interest ecologically and evolutionarily. Our comprehensive review of marine environmental epigenetics guides our recommendations of four key areas for future research: the dynamics of wash-in and wash-out of epigenetic effects, the mechanistic understanding of the interplay of different epigenetic marks and the interaction with the microbiome, the capacity for and mechanisms of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, and the evolutionary implications of the interaction of genetic and epigenetic features. Emerging insights in marine environmental epigenetics can be applied to critical issues such as aquaculture, biomonitoring, and biological invasions, thereby improving our ability to explain and predict the responses of marine taxa to global climate change.


acclimatization; aquaculture; biomonitoring; conservation; global climate change; phenotypic plasticity; transgenerational epigenetic inheritance

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