Plants compete with their neighbors via the release of chemical compounds into the rhizosphere. These phytotoxins originate from a series of secondary metabolites and can be processed further by soil-living microorganisms before exerting their activity on the target plant. To determine the molecular mode of action and the physiological relevance of potential phytotoxins, it is important to simulate true-to-life conditions in laboratory experiments, for example by applying physiologically relevant concentrations. Here, we report on an improved experimental setting to study the function of allelochemicals of the benzoxazolinone class. By adjusting the solvent and the application of the chemicals, we reduced by more than twenty-fold the concentration that is necessary to induce growth defects in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
Genes and transposons can exist in variable DNA methylation states, with potentially differential transcription. How these epialleles emerge is poorly understood. Here, we show that crossing an Arabidopsis thaliana plant with a hypomethylated genome and a normally methylated WT individual results, already in the F1 generation, in widespread changes in DNA methylation and transcription patterns. Novel nonparental and heritable epialleles arise at many genic loci, including a locus that itself controls DNA methylation patterns, but with most of the changes affecting pericentromeric transposons. Although a subset of transposons show immediate resilencing, a large number display decreased DNA methylation, which is associated with de novo or enhanced transcriptional activation and can translate into transposon mobilization in the progeny. Our findings reveal that the combination of distinct epigenomes can be viewed as an epigenomic shock, which is characterized by a round of epigenetic variation creating novel patterns of gene and TE regulation.
June 1, 2016, 3 pm
MPH Lecture Hall
June 2-3, 2016
at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussel
Hernán speaking about "Ancient DNA and plant genomics"
June 8, 2016, 3 pm
MPH Lecture Hall