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Front Microbiol. 2018 Jul 4;9:1479. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.01479. eCollection 2018.

Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance Under Environmental Stress by Genome-Wide DNA Methylation Profiling in Cyanobacterium.

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Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Marine Bioresource and Eco-environmental Science, Shenzhen Engineering Laboratory for Marine Algal Biotechnology, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory for Plant Epigenetics, College of Life Sciences and Oceanography, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, China.
Nanshan District Key Lab for Biopolymers and Safety Evaluation, College of Materials Science and Engineering, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, China.
Laboratory of Synthetic Microbiology, School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China.


Epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation are well known as connected with many important biological processes. Rapid accumulating evidence shows environmental stress can generate particular defense epigenetic changes across generations in eukaryotes. This transgenerational epigenetic inheritance in animals and plants has gained interest over the last years. Cyanobacteria play very crucial role in the earth, and as the primary producer they can adapt to nearly all diverse environments. However, few knowledge about the genome wide epigenetic information such as methylome information in cyanobacteria, especially under any environment stress, was reported so far. In this study we profiled the genome-wide cytosine methylation from a model cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, and explored the possibility of transgenerational epigenetic process in this ancient single-celled prokaryote by comparing the DNA methylomes among normal nitrogen medium cultivation, nitrogen starvation for 72 h and nitrogen recovery for about 12 generations. Our results shows that DNA methylation patterns in nitrogen starvation and nitrogen recovery are much more similar with each other, significantly different from that of the normal nitrogen. This study reveals the difference in global DNA methylation pattern of cyanobacteria between normal and nutrient stress conditions and reports the evidence of transgenerational epigenetic process in cyanobacteria. The results of this study may contribute to a better understanding of epigenetic regulation in prokaryotic adaptation to and survive in the ever changing environment.


DNA methylation; adaptation; cyanobacteria; environmental stress; transgenerational epigenetic inheritance

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