Changes in DNA methylation pattern of apple long-term in vitro shoot culture and acclimatized plants.


Research Institute of Nyíregyháza, IAREF, University of Debrecen, Nyíregyháza, P.O. Box 12, H-4400, Hungary. Electronic address: [Email]


DNA methylation is a process of epigenetic modification that can alter the functionality of a genome. Using whole-genome bisulfite sequencing, this study quantify the level of DNA methylation in the epigenomes of two diploid apple (Malus x domestica) scion cultivars ('McIntosh' and 'Húsvéti rozmaring') derived from three environmental conditions: in vivo mother plants in an orchard, in vitro culture, and acclimatized in vitro plants. The global DNA methylation levels were not dependent on the source of plant material, and the average level of DNA methylation was 49.77%, 34.65% and 8.77% in CpG, CHG and CHH contexts, respectively. Significant differences in DNA methylation were identified in 586 (specifically 334, 201 and 131 in CpG, CHG and CHH contexts, respectively) out of 45,116 genes, including promoter and coding sequences. These were classified as differentially methylated genes (DMGs). This is a 1.3% difference in the level of DNA methylation of genes in response to a change in the environment. Differential methylation was visualised by MA plots and functional genomic maps were established for biological processes, molecular functions and cellular components. When the DMGs were considered, in vitro tissue culture resulted in the highest level of methylation, but it was lower in acclimatized in vitro plants which was similar to that in the mother tree. Methylation patterns of the two scions differed, indicating cultivar-specific epigenetic regulation of gene expression during adaptation to various environments. After selecting genes that displayed differences larger than ±10% in CpG and CHG contexts, or larger than ±1.35% in the CHH context from among the DMGs, they were annotated in Blast2 GO v5.1.12 for Gene Ontology. DMGs identified as MD07G1113000 (protein transport), MD08G1041600 (extracellular space), MD09G1054800 (phosphatidic acid binding), and MD10G1265800 (not annotated) were methylated in all three contexts in in vitro shoots. These DNA methylation results suggest that epigenetic changes may contribute to the adaptation of apple to environmental changes by modifying the epigenome and thereby gene expression.


Epigenetic,Malus sp.,Tissue culture,Whole-genome bisulfite sequencing,

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