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Nucleic Acids Research
Vol. xx, No. xx, 2007; Pages: 1–12

Transgenerational changes in the genome stability
and methylation in pathogen-infected plants

Alexander Boyko1, Palak Kathiria1, Franz J. Zemp1, Youli Yao1, Igor Pogribny2
and Igor Kovalchuk1,*

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB. T1K 3M4, Canada.


Previously, we reported the generation of a virusinduced systemic signal that increased the somatic and meiotic recombination rates in tobacco mosaic virus (TMV)-infected tobacco plants. Here, we analyzed the progeny of plants that received the signal and found that these plants also have a higher frequency of rearrangements in the loci carrying the homology to LRR region of the gene of resistance to TMV (N-gene). Analysis of the stability of repetitive elements from Nicotiana tabacum loci and 5.8S ribosomal RNA loci did not show any changes. Further analysis of the changes in the progeny of infected plants revealed that they had substantially hypermethylated genomes. At the same time, loci-specific methylation analysis showed: (1) profound hypomethylation in several LRR-containing loci; (2) substantial hypermethylation of actin loci and (3) no change in methylation in the loci of repetitive elements from N. tabacum or 5.8S ribosomal RNA. Global genome hypermethylation of the progeny is believed to be part of a
general protection mechanism against stress, whereas locus-specific hypomethylation is associated with a higher frequency of rearrangements. Increased recombination events combined with the specific methylation pattern induced by pathogen attack could be a sign of an adaptive response by plants.

Keywords:tobaccomosaicvirus;Nicotianatabacum;5.8SribosomalRNA;hypermethylated genomes;physiology;morphology;radionuclides.

Corresponding author: Tel +1-403 329 2579; Fax +1-403 329 2242

E-mail: igor.kovalchuk@uleth.ca


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