Genomic and epigenomic changes in transgenerational response to cold stress in Arabidopsis thaliana

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Rahman, Ashif
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Biological Sciences
Plants are continuously exposed to various environmental stresses. They employ numerous strategies of resistance and develop a memory of stress exposure for future generations. Abiotic stress, like cold, can prompt the changes in phenotype, genotype, and epigenotype of plants. Plants can establish these as somatic and transgenerational memories. We studied the Arabidopsis thaliana plants exposed to multiple generations of cold stress. We hypothesized that the progeny of plants exposed to 25 generations to cold stress would be genetically and epigenetically more diverse than the parental plants. Our study reveals that multigenerational exposure to cold stress resulted in the physiological changes, as well as changes in the genomic and epigenomic (DNA methylation) patterns across generations. The main changes in the progeny were due to the high frequency of genetic mutations rather than epigenetic changes. Our work supports the existence of transgenerational stress response in plants and demonstrates that genetic changes prevail.
Arabidopsis thaliana , Cold -- Physiological effect , Plant ecological genetics , Plant genetics , Plant mutation