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Chilling-induced DNA Demethylation is associated with the cold tolerance of Hevea brasiliensis

Tang, Xiao, Wang, Qichao, Yuan, Hongmei, Huang, Xi
BMC plant biology 2018 v.18 no.1 pp. 70
DNA, DNA methylation, Geographical Locations, Hevea brasiliensis, breeding, clones, cold tolerance, cold treatment, cultivars, epigenetics, genes, genetic background, genetic variation, latex, latitude, summer, temperature, transcription (genetics), winter
BACKGROUND: Low temperature influences the development and latex production of rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) when extension to suboptimal high-latitude areas. The successful extension of Hevea brasiliensis cultivation to high-latitude areas has long believed to benefit from the breeding of cold-tolerant cultivars. A puzzling incongruity is the variation in cold tolerance among the cultivated clones despite their similar genetic make-up. RESULTS: To investigate this, we first transferred cultivar Reyan 7–33-97 to short-term cold treatment, and showed that cold-related genes (such as HbICE1 and HbCBF2), cold-responsive (COR) genes, and DNA-methylation related genes (such as HbMET1) were induced by cold treatment. Furthermore, long-term cold treatment not only elevated the transcriptional activities of the HbICE1, HbCBF2, and HbMET, but also induced DNA demethylation of their promoters. Cold treatment increased the transcriptional activities of demethylation-related genes such as the HbDME, HbROS, and HbDML genes, but did not alter the promoter methylation status. Furthermore, the HbICE1 and HbMET promoters showed hypomethylation status in samples collected at the end of winter from 12 different cultivars grown in four geographical locations, but switched to hypermethylation status at the end of summer. Expression of COR was correlated with the low temperature. Given that little genetic diversity exists in the HbICE1 and HbMET promoters among different cultivars, the DNA demethylation induced by cold was highly correlated with low temperature, but not with the genetic backgrounds of cultivars. CONCLUSION: Cold-induced epigenetic modification might play an important role in cold tolerance of H. brasiliensis.