Shanghai Center for Plant Stress Biology, National Key Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics, Center of Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, 200032, China; [Email] [Email]
DNA methylation is an important epigenetic mark involved in many biological processes. The genome of the climacteric tomato fruit undergoes a global loss of DNA methylation due to active DNA demethylation during the ripening process. It is unclear whether the ripening of other fruits is also associated with global DNA demethylation. We characterized the single-base resolution DNA methylomes of sweet orange fruits. Compared with immature orange fruits, ripe orange fruits gained DNA methylation at over 30,000 genomic regions and lost DNA methylation at about 1,000 genomic regions, suggesting a global increase in DNA methylation during orange fruit ripening. This increase in DNA methylation was correlated with decreased expression of DNA demethylase genes. The application of a DNA methylation inhibitor interfered with ripening, indicating that the DNA hypermethylation is critical for the proper ripening of orange fruits. We found that ripening-associated DNA hypermethylation was associated with the repression of several hundred genes, such as photosynthesis genes, and with the activation of hundreds of genes, including genes involved in abscisic acid responses. Our results suggest important roles of DNA methylation in orange fruit ripening.