Salt tolerant and sensitive rice varieties display differential methylome flexibility under salt stress

Liliana J. Ferreira, Vanessa Azevedo, João Maroco, M. Margarida Oliveira, Ana Paula Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

DNA methylation has been referred as an important player in plant genomic responses to environmental stresses but correlations between the methylome plasticity and specific traits of interest are still far from being understood. In this study, we inspected global DNA methylation levels in salt tolerant and sensitive rice varieties upon salt stress imposition. Global DNA methylation was quantified using the 5-methylcytosine (5mC) antibody and an ELISA-based technique, which is an affordable and quite pioneer assay in plants, and in situ imaging of methylation sites in interphase nuclei of tissue sections. Variations of global DNA methylation levels in response to salt stress were tissue- and genotype-dependent. We show a connection between a higher ability of DNA methylation adjustment levels and salt stress tolerance. The salt-tolerant rice variety Pokkali was remarkable in its ability to quickly relax DNA methylation in response to salt stress. In spite of the same tendency for reduction of global methylation under salinity, in the salt-sensitive rice variety IR29 such reduction was not statistically supported. In 'Pokkali', the salt stress-induced demethylation may be linked to active demethylation due to increased expression of DNA demethylases under salt stress. In 'IR29', the induction of both DNA demethylases and methyltransferases may explain the lower plasticity of DNA methylation. We further show that mutations for epigenetic regulators affected specific phenotypic parameters related to salinity tolerance, such as the root length and biomass. This work emphasizes the role of differential methylome flexibility between salt tolerant and salt sensitive rice varieties as an important player in salt stress tolerance, reinforcing the need to better understand the connection between epigenetic networks and plant responses to environmental stresses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0124060
JournalPlosOne
Volume10
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015

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