Transgenerational, dynamic methylation of stomata genes in response to low relative humidity

Penny J. Tricker, Carlos M.Rodríguez López, George Gibbings, Paul Hadley, Mike J. Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Transgenerational inheritance of abiotic stress-induced epigenetic modifications in plants has potential adaptive significance and might condition the offspring to improve the response to the same stress, but this is at least partly dependent on the potency, penetrance and persistence of the transmitted epigenetic marks. We examined transgenerational inheritance of low Relative Humidity-induced DNA methylation for two gene loci in the stomatal developmental pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana and the abundance of associated short-interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Heritability of low humidity-induced methylation was more predictable and penetrative at one locus (SPEECHLESS, entropy ≤ 0.02; χ2 < 0.001) than the other (FAMA, entropy ≤ 0.17; χ2 ns). Methylation at SPEECHLESS correlated positively with the continued presence of local siRNAs (r2 = 0.87; p = 0.013) which, however, could be disrupted globally in the progeny under repeated stress. Transgenerational methylation and a parental low humidity-induced stomatal phenotype were heritable, but this was reversed in the progeny under repeated treatment in a previously unsuspected manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6674-6689
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Environmental epigenetics
  • FAMA
  • Stomata
  • Transgenerational methylation
  • Water stress
  • siRNAs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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