Epigenetic changes can occur due to extracellular environmental conditions. Consequently, epigenetic mechanisms can play an intermediate role to translate environmental signals to intracellular changes. Such a role might be particularly important in plants, which often show strong local adaptation and have the potential for heritable epigenetic states. However, little is currently known about the role of epigenetic variation in the ecological mechanisms of adaptation. Here, we used multivariate redundancy analyses to examine genomewide associations between DNA methylation polymorphisms and climate variation in two independent panels of Arabidopsis accessions, including 122 Eurasian accessions as well as in a regional panel of 148 accessions in Sweden. At the single-nucleotide methylation level, climate and space (geographic spatial structure) explain small yet significant amount of variation in both panels. On the other hand, when viewed in a context of genomic clusters of methylated and unmethylated cytosines, climate and space variables explain much greater amounts of variation in DNA methylation than those explained by variation at the single-nucleotide level. We found that the single-nucleotide methylation polymorphisms with the strongest associations with climate were enriched in transposable elements and in potentially RNA-directed methylation contexts. When viewed in the context of genomic clusters, variation of DNA methylation at different sequence contexts exhibit distinctive segregation along different axes of variation in the redundancy analyses. Genomewide methylation showed much stronger associations with climate within the regional panel (Sweden) compared to the global (Eurasia). Together, these findings indicate that genetic and epigenetic variation across the genome may play a role in response to climate conditions and local adaptation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics