Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Hidden Layer of Genome Unveils how Plants may Adapt to Environments Throughout the World

Published: Thursday, March 07, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, March 07, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified patterns of epigenomic diversity that not only allow plants to adapt to various environments, but could also benefit crop production and the study of human diseases.

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified patterns of epigenomic diversity that not only allow plants to adapt to various environments, but could also benefit crop production and the study of human diseases.

Published March 6 in Nature, the findings show that in addition to genetic diversity found in plants throughout the world, their epigenomic makeup is as varied as the environments in which they are found. Epigenomics is the study of the pattern of chemical markers that serve as a regulatory layer on top of the DNA sequence. Depending on where they grow, the plants' epigenomic differences may allow them to rapidly adapt to their environments.

Epigenomic modifications alter gene expression without changing the letters of the DNA alphabet (A-T-C-G), providing cells with an additional tool to fine-tune how genes control the cellular machinery. These changes occur not only in plants, but in humans as well.

"We looked at plants collected from around the world and found that their epigenomes are surprisingly different," says senior author Joseph R. Ecker, a professor in Salk's Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory and holder of the Salk International Council Chair in Genetics. "This additional diversity may create a way for plants to rapidly adapt to diverse environments without any genetic change in their DNA, which takes a very long time."

By understanding epigenomic alterations in plants, scientists may be able to manipulate them for various purposes, including biofuels and creating crops that can withstand stressful events such as drought. That knowledge of epigenomic changes in crop plants could tell producers what to breed for and could have a huge impact on identifying plants that can survive certain conditions and adapt to environmental stressors, says Ecker, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigator.

Using MethylC-Seq, a method for mapping epigenomic changes developed by Ecker, the researchers analyzed methylation patterns from a population of Arabidopsis thaliana, a modest mustard weed that has become to plant biology what laboratory mice are to animal biology. The plants were from a variety of climates in the Northern Hemisphere, from Europe to Asia and Sweden to the Cape Verde Islands. Ecker's team examined the genomes and methylomes of A. thaliana, the makeup of their entire genetic and epigenomic codes, respectively, which is the first step toward understanding the impact of epigenetic changes on the plants' physical characteristics and ability to adapt to their environment.

"We expected variation in methylation patterns among groups of plants from around the globe," says co-lead author Robert J. Schmitz, a postdoctoral researcher in Ecker's lab. "The amount, however, was far greater than we ever anticipated."

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Not All Organs Age Alike
Study shows first comprehensive view of how proteins age in different organs.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Epigenetic Variations Between Tissues
A Salk Institute-led team has generated a map of the human methylome, gaining insight into patterns of DNA methylation of various tissues.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
New Stem Cell May Overcome Hurdles for Regenerative Medicine
Scientists have discovered a novel type of pluripotent stem cell capable of developing into any type of tissue whose identity is tied to their location in a developing embryo.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Vital Step in Stem Cell Growth Revealed
Salk scientists' finding could aid regenerative and cancer therapies.
Thursday, May 07, 2015
Gene-Editing Technique Offers Hope For Hereditary Diseases
Salk scientists use molecular "scissors" to eliminate mitochondrial mutations in eggs and embryos.
Monday, April 27, 2015
Cellular Scissors Chop up HIV Virus
Salk scientists re-engineered the bacterial defense system CRISPR to recognize HIV inside human cells and destroy the virus, offering a potential new therapy.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Powerful Method To Speed Cancer Drug Discovery Unveiled
The new method lets researchers identify weak and previously undetectable interactions between proteins inside living cells.
Monday, November 24, 2014
Salk Scientists Discover a Key to Mending Broken Hearts
Researchers regenerate and heal mouse hearts by using the molecular machinery the animals had all along.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Turning Human Skin Cells Into Immune-Fighting White Blood Cells
The fast and safe technique developed at the Salk Institute circumvents problems that have hindered regenerative medicine.
Friday, September 12, 2014
No Extra Mutations in Modified Stem Cells, Study Finds
New results ease previous concerns that gene-editing techniques-used to develop therapies for genetic diseases-could add unwanted mutations to stem cells.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Salk Institute Receives $3M Gift for Ageing Research
The gift from the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research will allow the Institute to continue conducting research to understand the biology of normal human aging and age-related diseases.
Friday, May 23, 2014
Circadian Clock Gene Linked to Eating Schedule
Research from the Salk Institute has shown that mutations in the circadian genes could drive night eating syndrome.
Friday, May 23, 2014
New Stem Cell Research Points to Early Indicators of Schizophrenia
Salk scientists show fundamental differences in early neurons from patients with schizophrenia, supporting the theory that risk for the disease may begin in the womb.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Salk Institute and Stanford Lead New $40M Stem Cell Genomics Center
Collaborative research center will bridge genomics and stem cell projects to find new therapies.
Sunday, February 02, 2014
Salk Scientists Discover more Versatile Approach to Creating Stem Cells
New method should hasten promise of regenerative medicine.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
How a Genetic Locus Protects Adult Blood-Forming Stem Cells
Mammalian imprinted Gtl2 protects adult hematopoietic stem cells by restricting metabolic activity in the cells' mitochondria.
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
The MaxSignal Colistin ELISA Test Kit from Bioo Scientific
Kit can help prevent the antibiotic apocalypse by keeping last resort drugs out of the food supply.
"Good" Mozzie Virus Might Hold Key to Fighting Human Disease
Australian scientists have discovered a new virus carried by one of the country’s most common pest mosquitoes.
Non-Disease Proteins Kill Brain Cells
Scientists at the forefront of cutting-edge research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have shown that the mere presence of protein aggregates may be as important as their form and identity in inducing cell death in brain tissue.
Closing the Loop on an HIV Escape Mechanism
Research team finds that protein motions regulate virus infectivity.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Potential Treatment for Life-Threatening Viral Infections Revealed
The findings point to new therapies for Dengue, West Nile and Ebola.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos