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Pre-conditioning the epigenetic response to high vapor pressure deficit increases the drought tolerance of Arabidopsis thaliana

Tricker, P., Rodríguez López, C., Hadley, P., Wagstaff, C. and Wilkinson, M. (2013) Pre-conditioning the epigenetic response to high vapor pressure deficit increases the drought tolerance of Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Signaling & Behavior, 8 (10). e25974. ISSN 1559-2316

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To link to this item DOI: 10.4161/psb.25974


Epigenetic modification of the genome via cytosine methylation is a dynamic process that responds to changes in the growing environment. This modification can also be heritable. The combination of both properties means that there is the potential for the life experiences of the parental generation to modify the methylation profiles of their offspring and so potentially to ‘pre-condition’ them to better accommodate abiotic conditions encountered by their parents. We recently identified high vapor pressure deficit (vpd)-induced DNA methylation at two gene loci in the stomatal development pathway and an associated reduction in leaf stomatal frequency.1 Here, we test whether this epigenetic modification pre-conditioned parents and their offspring to the more severe water stress of periodic drought. We found that three generations of high vpd-grown plants were better able to withstand periodic drought stress over two generations. This resistance was not directly associated with de novo methylation of the target stomata genes, but was associated with the cmt3 mutant’s inability to maintain asymmetric sequence context methylation. If our finding applies widely, it could have significant implications for evolutionary biology and breeding for stressful environments.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Food Security
Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences > Human Nutrition Research Group
ID Code:37440
Publisher:Landes Bioscience


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