DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism with the potential to regulate gene expression and affect plant phenotypes. Both hybridization and genome doubling may affect the DNA methylation status of newly formed allopolyploid plants. Previous studies demonstrated that changes in cytosine methylation levels and patterns were different among individual hybrid plant, therefore, studies investigating the characteristics of variation in cytosine methylation status must be conducted at the population level to avoid sampling error. In the present study, an F1 hybrid diploid population and three allotriploid populations with different heterozygosity [originating from first-division restitution (FDR), second-division restitution (SDR), and post-meiotic restitution (PMR) 2n eggs of the same female parent] were used to investigate cytosine methylation inheritance and variation relative to their common parents using methylation-sensitive amplification polymorphism (MSAP). The variation in cytosine methylation in individuals in each population exhibited substantial differences, confirming the necessity of population epigenetics. The total methylation levels of the diploid population were significantly higher than in the parents, but those of the three allotriploid populations were significantly lower than in the parents, indicating that both hybridization and polyploidization contributed to cytosine methylation variation. The vast majority of methylated status could be inherited from the parents, and the average percentages of non-additive variation were 6.29, 3.27, 5.49 and 5.07% in the diploid, FDR, SDR and PMR progeny populations, respectively. This study lays a foundation for further research on population epigenetics in allopolyploids.
Suo, Y., Dong, C., & Kang, X. (2015). Inheritance and variation of cytosine methylation in three Populus allotriploid populations with different heterozygosity. PLoS ONE, 10(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0126491