Epigenetic inheritance and transgenerational response to heat stress in Arabidopsis thaliana

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Ayemere, Ivie
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Biological Sciences
Plants experience abiotic stress and develop mechanisms to tolerate these stresses which preserves their progeny over time. Stress exposure induces physiological responses like accelerated growth rates; increased flowering/bolting time complementary to altered levels of genomic methylation. To understand the effects of epigenetic inheritance in the form of DNA methylation, changes triggered by heat stress in progeny genome, epigenetic variations in the genome of stressed and non-stressed progeny and parent plants over twenty-five generations were compared using whole genome bisulfite sequencing. Our study provides evidence that multigenerational exposure to heat stress resulted in physiological changes and impacted DNA methylation patterns across generations. Identification of SNPs gave insight to the broader genotypic diversity in stressed plants and showed a pattern of inheritance that reflects short-term memory of heat stress across twenty-five generations in Arabidopsis thaliana. Understanding transgenerational responses in plants can assist in implementing new techniques that produce non-transgenic stress tolerant crops.
Arabidopsis thaliana , Epigenetics , Heat -- Physiological effect , Methylation , Molecular biology