Data from: Correlations between genetic, epigenetic and phenotypic variation of an introduced clonal herb
Wang, Mo-Zhu; Li, Hong-Li; Li, Jun-Min; Yu, Fei-Hai (2019), Data from: Correlations between genetic, epigenetic and phenotypic variation of an introduced clonal herb, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.vk5c064
Heritable epigenetic modifications may occur in response to environmental variation, further altering phenotypes through gene regulation, without genome sequence changes. However, epigenetic variation in wild plant populations and their correlations with genetic and phenotypic variation remain largely unknown, especially for clonal plants. We investigated genetic, epigenetic and phenotypic variation of ten populations of an introduced clonal herb Hydrocotyle vulgaris in China. Populations of H. vulgaris exhibited extremely low genetic diversity with one genotype exclusively dominant, but significantly higher epigenetic diversity. Both intra- and inter-population epigenetic variation were related to genetic variation. But there was no correlation between intra- / inter-population genetic variation and phenotypic variation. When genetic variation was controlled, intra-population epigenetic diversity was related to petiole length, specific leaf area, and leaf area variation, while inter-population epigenetic distance was correlated with leaf area differentiation. Our study provides empirical evidence that even though epigenetic variation is partly under genetic control, it could also independently play a role in shaping plant phenotypes, possibly serving as a pathway to accelerate evolution of clonal plant populations.