Plant phenotypes respond to environmental change, an adaptive capacity that is at least partly transgenerational. However, epigenetic components of this interplay are difficult to measure. Depletion of the nuclear-encoded protein MSH1 causes dramatic and heritable changes in plant development, and here we show that crossing these altered plants with isogenic wild type produces epi-lines with heritable, enhanced growth vigour. Pericentromeric DNA hypermethylation occurs in a subset of msh1 mutants, indicative of heightened transposon repression, while enhanced growth epi-lines show large chromosomal segments of differential CG methylation, reflecting genome-wide reprogramming. When seedlings are treated with 5-azacytidine, root growth of epi-lines is restored to wild-type levels, implicating hypermethylation in enhanced growth. Grafts of wild-type floral stems to mutant rosettes produce progeny with enhanced growth and altered CG methylation strikingly similar to epi-lines, indicating a mobile signal when MSH1 is downregulated, and confirming the programmed nature of methylome and phenotype changes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)