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Data from: Genetic and epigenetic variation in Spartina alterniflora following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Citation

Robertson, Marta et al. (2017), Data from: Genetic and epigenetic variation in Spartina alterniflora following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.pf0s5

Abstract

Catastrophic events offer unique opportunities to study rapid population response to stress in natural settings. In concert with genetic variation, epigenetic mechanisms like DNA methylation may offer a mechanism of rapid response to organisms facing severe environmental challenges, and contribute to the high resilience of species like Spartina alterniflora, a foundation salt marsh grass which shows resilience to strong environmental disturbance. In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill devastated large portions of the coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. Following the spill, we simultaneously examined the genetic and epigenetic structure of recovering populations of S. alterniflora to oil exposure. We quantified genetic and DNA methylation variation using AFLP and MS-AFLP to test the hypothesis that response to oil exposure in S. alterniflora resulted in genetically and epigenetically based population differentiation. We found high genetic and epigenetic variation within and among sites, and found significant genetic differentiation between contaminated and uncontaminated sites, which may reflect non-random mortality in response to oil exposure. Additionally, despite a lack of genome wide patterns in DNA methylation between contaminated and uncontaminated sites, we found five MS-AFLP loci (12% of polymorphic MS-AFLP loci) that were correlated with oil exposure. Overall, our findings support genetically based differentiation correlated to exposure to the oil spill in this system, but also suggest a potential role for epigenetic mechanisms in population differentiation.

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