Unraveling the epigenetic dimension of complex traits in Arabidopsis

Friday seminar by Frank Johannes


Inter-individual differences in DNA methylation states can provide a source of heritable phenotypic variation independent of DNA sequence changes. Accumulating evidence shows that this mode of epigenetic inheritance is more widespread in plant populations than previously appreciated.

Here I highlight our ongoing attempts to characterize the epigenetic dimension of complex trait inheritance in an experimental system of so-called Epigenetic Recombinant Inbred Lines (EpiRILs) of the plant Arabidopsis. This population was derived from two parents with nearly identical DNA sequences but drastically divergent DNA methylation profiles. Employing a combination of population genetic approaches and high-throughput profiling techniques, we are now obtaining first glimpses of the complex and dynamic heritable epigenetic architecture underlying a spectrum of phenotypes in this system.

Our work has relevance for understanding natural variation and may challenge current attempts at drawing causal arrows solely from genotype to phenotype.

Frank Johannes
Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Groningen Bioinformatics Centre (GBiC)
University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Published Feb. 3, 2012 2:29 PM - Last modified Dec. 3, 2015 2:30 PM