An epigenetic view of plant cells cultured in vitro: somaclonal variation and beyond

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Epigenetic mechanisms are highly dynamic events that modulate gene expression. As more accurate and powerful tools for epigenetic analysis become available for application in a broader range of plant species, analysis of the epigenetic landscape of plant cell cultures may turn out to be crucial for understanding variant phenotypes. In vitro plant cell and tissue culture methodologies are important for many ongoing plant propagation and breeding programmes as well as for cutting-edge research in several plant model species. Although it has long been known that in vitro conditions induce variation at several levels, most studies using such conditions rely on the assumption that in vitro cultured plant cells/tissues mostly conform genotypically and phenotypically. However, when large-scale clonal propagation is the aim, there has been a concern in confirming true-to-typeness using molecular markers for evaluating stability. While in most reports genetic variation has been found to occur at relatively modest frequencies, variation in DNA methylation patterns seems to be much more frequent and in some cases it has been directly implicated in phenotypic variation. Recent advances in the field of epigenetics have uncovered highly dynamic mechanisms of chromatin remodelling occurring during cell dedifferentiation and differentiation processes on which in vitro adventitious plant regeneration systems are based. Here, an overview of recent findings related to developmental switches occurring during in vitro culture is presented. Additionally, an update on the detection of epigenetic variation in plant cell cultures will be provided and discussed in the light of recent progress in the plant epigenetics field.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)3713-3725
JournalJournal Of Experimental Botany
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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