Abstract Detail


Alonso, Conchita [1], Medrano, Mónica [2], Herrera, Carlos [3].

Changes in phenology and fitness-related traits induced by DNA demethylation and recurrent drought in the annual weed Erodium cicutarium (Geranieaceae).

Mounting evidence supports the view that plants’ responses to environmental stress are mediated by epigenetic factors including DNA methylation, histone modifications and small RNAs. Understanding the relationships between phenotypic and fitness related-traits and specific epigenetic features such as DNA methylation in contrasting environments is thus crucial to uncover their potential impact on plant adaptation and survival in changing environments. Experimental approaches that combine a controlled alteration of epigenetic features with exposure to some relevant stress factor can contribute to this end. In this study, we combined the application of a demethylating agent (5-azacytidine) with experimental induction of recurrent water-stress, and recorded their effects on phenotypic traits related to early development (early leaf number, first leaf length), phenology (time to first flower), growth rate (increase in leaf number over time), and fitness-related traits (aboveground biomass, below ground biomass, inflorescence production) in the annual weed Erodium cicutarium. We found that 5-azacytidine significantly reduced DNA methylation in leaf and root tissues. Moreover, experimental demethylation slowed initial plant development, caused a significant delay in flowering onset, and reduced the number of leaves and inflorescences produced at different time periods, these detrimental effects being independent of water regime. Recurrent drought reduced final above- and below-ground biomass and total inflorescence production, and such negative effects were unaffected by artificial changes in DNA methylation. Our results suggest that epigenetic effects can desynchronize plant growth, flowering and senescence among individual plants both in favourable and adverse environments, without necessarily affecting their final size and reproductive output.

1 - Estacion Biologica De Doñana, Evolutionary Ecology, Avda Americo Vespucio 26, Sevilla, SE, E-41092, Spain
2 - Estacion Biologica de Doñana, CSIC, Avda Americo Vespucio 26, se
3 - Estacion Biologica de Doñana, CSIC, Evolutionary Ecology, Avda Americo Vespucio 26, Sevilla, SE, E-41092, Spain

DNA methylation
stress experiment

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: EC06006
Abstract ID:402
Candidate for Awards:None

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