Regeneration of protoplasts into de novo plants was reported for a large number of seaweed species. The regeneration of protoplasts into different morphotypes as a result of epigenetic variations was discussed for the first time in this study. The loci assessed for methylation modifications in normal filamentous thalli showed a frequency of 32.43% as unmethylated DNA, 24.32% as a hemimethylated, and 20.27% as a methylation of internal cytosine at both the strands. The corresponding methylation values for disk-type thalli were 27.02%, 32.43%, and 14.86%, respectively. The hypermethylation condition was apparent in the disk-type thalli with methylation ratio of 72.97% compared to that of normal filamentous thalli with 67.56%. The frequency of methylation polymorphic sites among the two morphotypes was 53%. The present study reveals the distinct expression of cytosine methylation and is thus correlated to differential morphogenesis of plants regenerated from cultured cells. The number of protoplasts regenerating into filamentous thalli declined with increasing temperature from 15°C, 20°C, 25°C, and 30°C. The disk-type variant had higher thermal stability at 30°C over normal filamentous thalli. Further, this variant could maintain itself for more than a year in the laboratory indicating its suitability for in vitro germplasm maintenance and propagation.
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