Hypomethylated poplars show higher tolerance to water deficit and highlight a dual role for DNA methylation in shoot meristem: regulation of stress response and genome integrity

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
M. D. SowStephane Maury


As fixed and long living organisms subjected to repeated environmental stresses, trees have developed mechanisms such as phenotypic plasticity that help them to cope with fluctuating environmental conditions. Here, we tested the role DNA methylation as a hub of integration, linking plasticity and physiological response to water deficit in the shoot apical meristem of the model tree poplar (Populus). Using a reverse genetic approach, we compared hypomethylated RNAi-ddm1 lines to wild-type trees for drought tolerance. An integrative analysis was realized with phytohormone balance, methylomes, transcriptomes and mobilomes. Hypomethylated lines were more tolerant when subjected to moderate water deficit and were intrinsically more tolerant to drought-induced cavitation. The alteration of the DDM1 machinery induced variation in DNA methylation in a cytosine context dependent manner, both in genes and transposable elements. Hypomethylated lines subjected to water deficit showed altered expression of genes involved in phytohormone pathways, such as salicylic acid and modified hormonal balance. Several transposable elements showed stress- and/or line-specific patterns of reactivation, and we could detect copy number variations for two ...Continue Reading

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