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Increased epigenetic diversity and transient epigenetic memory in response to salinity stress in Thlaspi arvense

Citation

Guan, Yabin et al. (2021), Increased epigenetic diversity and transient epigenetic memory in response to salinity stress in Thlaspi arvense, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.kprr4xh2w

Abstract

Epigenetic diversity could play an important role in adaptive evolution of organisms, especially for plant species occurring in new and stressful environments. Thlaspi arvense (pennycress), a valuable oilseed crop, is widespread in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. In this study, we investigated the effect of salinity stress on the epigenetic variation of DNA methylation and epigenetic stress memory in pennycress using methylation-sensitive amplification polymorphism (MSAP) markers. We examined how the status of DNA methylation changes across individuals in response to salinity stress and whether such an effect of maternal stress could be transferred to offspring for one or two generations in non-stressed environments. Our results based on 306 epiloci indicated no consistent change of DNA methylation status in specific epiloci across individuals within the same conditions. In contrast, we found that the epigenetic diversity at population level increased significantly in response to the stimulation of salinity stress; and this “stimulation effect” could be transferred partially in the form of stress memory to at least two generations of offspring in non-stressed environments. In addition, we observed a parallel change in functionally important traits, i.e. phenotypic variation was significantly higher in plants grown under salinity stress compared with those of control groups. Taken together, our results provide novel clues for the increased spontaneous epimutation rate in response to stress in plants, of potential adaptive significance.

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31660057

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31770408

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31260055