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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Changes in the epigenome and transcriptome of the poplar shoot apical meristem in response to water availability affect preferentially hormone pathways

Lafon-Placette, C; Le, Gac AL; Chauveau, D; Segura, V; Delaunay, A; Lesage-Descauses, MC; Hummel, I; Cohen, D; Jesson, B; Le, Thiec D; Bogeat-Triboulot, MB; Brignolas, F; Maury, S


The adaptive capacity of long-lived organisms such as trees to the predicted climate changes, including severe and successive drought episodes, will depend on the presence of genetic diversity and phenotypic plasticity. Here, the involvement of epigenetic mechanisms in phenotypic plasticity toward soil water availability was examined in Populusxeuramericana. This work aimed at characterizing (i) the transcriptome plasticity, (ii) the genome-wide plasticity of DNA methylation, and (iii) the function of genes affected by a drought-rewatering cycle in the shoot apical meristem. Using microarray chips, differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were identified for each water regime. The rewatering condition was associated with the highest variations of both gene expression and DNA methylation. Changes in methylation were observed particularly in the body of expressed genes and to a lesser extent in transposable elements. Together, DEGs and DMRs were significantly enriched in genes related to phytohormone metabolism or signaling pathways. Altogether, shoot apical meristem responses to changes in water availability involved coordinated variations in DNA methylation, as well as in gene expression, with a specific targeting of genes involved in hormone pathways, a factor that may enable phenotypic plasticity.


Differentially expressed genes; differentially methylated regions; DNA methylation; phenotypic plasticity; Populusxeuramericana; shoot apical meristem; water availability

Published in

Journal of Experimental Botany
2018, Volume: 69, number: 3, pages: 537-551

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