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Low relative humidity triggers RNA-directed de novo DNA methylation and suppression of genes controlling stomatal development

Tricker, P., Gibbings, J.G., López, C. M. R., Hadley, P. and Wilkinson, M. J. (2012) Low relative humidity triggers RNA-directed de novo DNA methylation and suppression of genes controlling stomatal development. Journal of Experimental Botany, 63 (10). pp. 3799-3813. ISSN 0022-0957

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ers076


Environmental cues influence the development of stomata on the leaf epidermis, and allow plants to exert plasticity in leaf stomatal abundance in response to the prevailing growing conditions. It is reported that Arabidopsis thaliana ‘Landsberg erecta’ plants grown under low relative humidity have a reduced stomatal index and that two genes in the stomatal development pathway, SPEECHLESS and FAMA, become de novo cytosine methylated and transcriptionally repressed. These environmentally-induced epigenetic responses were abolished in mutants lacking the capacity for de novo DNA methylation, for the maintenance of CG methylation, and in mutants for the production of short-interfering non-coding RNAs (siRNAs) in the RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway. Induction of methylation was quantitatively related to the induction of local siRNAs under low relative humidity. Our results indicate the involvement of both transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene suppression at these loci in response to environmental stress. Thus, in a physiologically important pathway, a targeted epigenetic response to a specific environmental stress is reported and several of its molecular, mechanistic components are described, providing a tractable platform for future epigenetics experiments. Our findings suggest epigenetic regulation of stomatal development that allows for anatomical and phenotypic plasticity, and may help to explain at least some of the plant’s resilience to fluctuating relative humidity.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:28522
Additional Information:The full text of this article is freely available via PMC using the link supplied in Related URLs
Publisher:Oxford University Press
Publisher Statement:This paper is available online free of all access charges (see for further details) RESEARCH


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