Heritable Epigenetic Variation and its Potential Applications for Crop Improvement

Full Title: Heritable Epigenetic Variation and its Potential Applications for Crop Improvement

Journal: Plant Breed

Year of Publication: 2013

PHHI Author(s): Changqing Zhang Tzung-Fu Hsieh
Publication Author(s): Zhang, C.Q and Hsieh, T.-F.

Abstract:

Phenotypic variation within organisms is driven primarily by genetic diversity. However, there is a growing appreciation that epigenetic variation, resulting from a multitude of diverse chemical modifications to the DNA and chromatin, can have profound effects on phenotype. Heritable epigenetic marks persist through meiosis and can be stably transmitted to the next generation, resulting in transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. Importantly, when epigenetic changes occur near coding genes, affecting their transcriptional state, heritable epigenetic variation can result in heritable phenotypic variation. Large-scale interrogation of epigenome inheritance in Arabidopsis has revealed that spontaneous variation in DNA methylation occurs at a rate that is orders of magnitude greater than genetic mutation, indicating the key importance of epigenetic variation during evolution. Thus, there is a potential for epigenetics to play a role in crop improvement, including regulation of transgene expression and creation of novel epialleles. Here, we review cases of naturally occurring and genetically induced epialleles, and discuss how the studies from two epigenetic populations are rapidly increasing our understanding of epigenetic diversity.

Link to Article: http://www.plantbreedbio.org/journal/view.html?uid=79&vmd=Full&