Differential DNA methylation patterns are related to phellogen origin and quality of Quercus suber cork

Vera Inácio, Pedro M. Barros, Augusta Costa, Cristóvão Roussado, Elsa Gonçalves, Rita Costa, José Graça, M. Margarida Oliveira, Leonor Morais-Cecílio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


DNA methylation is thought to influence Quercus suber cork quality, which is the main constraint for its economic valorisation. However, a deep knowledge of the cytosine methylation patterns disclosing the epigenetic variability of trees with different cork quality types is totally missing. This study investigates the hypothesis that variations in DNA methylation contribute to differences in cork cellular characteristics directly related to original or traumatic phellogen activity. We used MSAPs (Methylation Sensitive Amplified Polymorphism) to assess DNA methylation patterns of cork and leaf tissues of Q. suber adult trees growing in three cork oak stands. The relationship between the detected polymorphisms and the diversity of cork quality traits was explored by a marker-trait analysis focusing on the most relevant quality characteristics. Populations differed widely in cork quality, but only slightly in degree of epigenetic differentiation. Four MSAP markers (1.3% of the total) were significantly associated with the most noteworthy quality traits: wood inclusions (nails) and porosity. This evidence supports the potential role of cytosine methylation in the modulation of differential phellogen activity either involved in localized cell death or in pore production, resulting in different cork qualities. Although, the underlying basis of the methylation polymorphism of loci affecting cork quality traits remain unclear, the disclosure of markers statistically associated with cork quality strengthens the potential role of DNA methylation in the regulation of these traits, namely at the phellogen level.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0169018
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Differential DNA methylation patterns are related to phellogen origin and quality of Quercus suber cork'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this