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Phenotypic response to light versus shade associated with DNA methylation changes in Snapdragon plants (Antirrhinum majus)

Abstract : The phenotypic plasticity of plants in response to change in their light environment, and in particularly, to shade is a schoolbook example of ecologically relevant phenotypic plasticity with evolutionary adaptive implications. Epigenetic variation is known to potentially underlie plant phenotypic plasticity. Yet, little is known about its role in ecologically and evolutionary relevant mechanisms shaping the diversity of plant populations in nature. Here we used a reference-free reduced representation bisulfite sequencing method for non-model organisms (epiGBS) to investigate changes in DNA methylation patterns across the genome in snapdragon plants (Antirrhinum majus L.). We exposed plants to sunlight versus artificially induced shade in four highly inbred lines to exclude genetic confounding effects. Our results showed that phenotypic plasticity in response to light versus shade shaped vegetative traits. They also showed that DNA methylation patterns were modified under light versus shade, with a trend towards global effects over the genome but with large effects found on a restricted portion. We also detected the existence of a correlation between phenotypic and epigenetic variation that neither supported nor rejected its potential role in plasticity. While our findings imply epigenetic changes in response to light versus shade environments in snapdragon plants, whether these changes are directly involved in the phenotypic plastic response of plants remains to be investigated. Our approach contributed to this new finding but illustrates the limits in terms of sample size and statistical power of population epigenetic approaches in non-model organisms. Pushing this boundary will be necessary before the relationship between environmentally induced epigenetic changes and phenotypic plasticity is clarified for ecologically relevant mechanisms with evolutionary implications
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03132536
Contributor : Anne Modat <>
Submitted on : Friday, February 5, 2021 - 11:00:37 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, February 13, 2021 - 3:10:04 AM

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Pierick Mouginot, Nelia Luviano Aparicio, Delphine Gourcilleau, Mathieu Latutrie, Sara Marin, et al.. Phenotypic response to light versus shade associated with DNA methylation changes in Snapdragon plants (Antirrhinum majus). Genes, MDPI, 2021, 12 (2), pp.227. ⟨10.3390/genes12020227⟩. ⟨hal-03132536⟩

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