Transgenerational epigenetics: Inheritance of global cytosine methylation and methylation-related epigenetic markers in the shrub Lavandula latifolia.

Research paper by Carlos M CM Herrera, Conchita C Alonso, Mónica M Medrano, Ricardo R Pérez, Pilar P Bazaga

Indexed on: 05 May '18Published on: 05 May '18Published in: American journal of botany


The ecological and evolutionary significance of natural epigenetic variation (i.e., not based on DNA sequence variants) variation will depend critically on whether epigenetic states are transmitted from parents to offspring, but little is known on epigenetic inheritance in nonmodel plants. We present a quantitative analysis of transgenerational transmission of global DNA cytosine methylation (= proportion of all genomic cytosines that are methylated) and individual epigenetic markers (= methylation status of anonymous MSAP markers) in the shrub Lavandula latifolia. Methods based on parent-offspring correlations and parental variance component estimation were applied to epigenetic features of field-growing plants ('maternal parents') and greenhouse-grown progenies. Transmission of genetic markers (AFLP) was also assessed for reference. Maternal parents differed significantly in global DNA cytosine methylation (range = 21.7-36.7%). Greenhouse-grown maternal families differed significantly in global methylation, and their differences were significantly related to maternal origin. Methylation-sensitive amplified polymorphism (MSAP) markers exhibited significant transgenerational transmission, as denoted by significant maternal variance component of marker scores in greenhouse families and significant mother-offspring correlations of marker scores. Although transmission-related measurements for global methylation and MSAP markers were quantitatively lower than those for AFLP markers taken as reference, this study has revealed extensive transgenerational transmission of genome-wide global cytosine methylation and anonymous epigenetic markers in L. latifolia. Similarity of results for global cytosine methylation and epigenetic markers lends robustness to this conclusion, and stresses the value of considering both types of information in epigenetic studies of nonmodel plants. © 2018 Botanical Society of America.