Gene body DNA methylation in seagrasses: inter- and intraspecific differences and interaction with transcriptome plasticity under heat stress

Laura Entrambasaguas, Miriam Ruocco, Koen J.F. Verhoeven, Gabriele Procaccini (Corresponding author), Lazaro Marín-Guirao

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Abstract

The role of DNA methylation and its interaction with gene expression and transcriptome plasticity is poorly understood, and current insight comes mainly from studies in very few model plant species. Here, we study gene body DNA methylation (gbM) and gene expression patterns in ecotypes from contrasting thermal environments of two marine plants with contrasting life history strategies in order to explore the potential role epigenetic mechanisms could play in gene plasticity and responsiveness to heat stress. In silico transcriptome analysis of CpGO/E ratios suggested that the bulk of Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa genes possess high levels of intragenic methylation. We also observed a correlation between gbM and gene expression flexibility: genes with low DNA methylation tend to show flexible gene expression and plasticity under changing conditions. Furthermore, the empirical determination of global DNA methylation (5-mC) showed patterns of intra and inter-specific divergence that suggests a link between methylation level and the plants’ latitude of origin and life history. Although we cannot discern whether gbM regulates gene expression or vice versa, or if other molecular mechanisms play a role in facilitating transcriptome responsiveness, our findings point to the existence of a relationship between gene responsiveness and gbM patterns in marine plants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14343
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • international
  • Plan_S-Compliant-OA

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