Maintenance of pre-existing DNA methylation states through recurring excess-light stress

Diep R. Ganguly, Peter A. Crisp, Steven R. Eichten, Barry J. Pogson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The capacity for plant stress priming and memory and the notion of this being underpinned by DNA methylation-mediated memory is an appealing hypothesis for which there is mixed evidence. We previously established a lack of drought-induced methylome variation in Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis); however, this was tied to only minor observations of physiological memory. There are numerous independent observations demonstrating that photoprotective mechanisms, induced by excess-light stress, can lead to robust programmable changes in newly developing leaf tissues. Although key signalling molecules and transcription factors are known to promote this priming signal, an untested question is the potential involvement of chromatin marks towards the maintenance of light stress acclimation, or memory. Thus, we systematically tested our previous hypothesis of a stress-resistant methylome using a recurring excess-light stress, then analysing new, emerging, and existing tissues. The DNA methylome showed negligible stress-associated variation, with the vast majority attributable to stochastic differences. Yet, photoacclimation was evident through enhanced photosystem II performance in exposed tissues, and nonphotochemical quenching and fluorescence decline ratio showed evidence of mitotic transmission. Thus, we have observed physiological acclimation in new and emerging tissues in the absence of substantive DNA methylome changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1657-1672
Number of pages16
JournalPlant Cell and Environment
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology (CE140100008). D.R.G. and P.A. C. were supported by the Grains Research and Development Council (GRS10683 and GRS184) and Australian Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships. S.R.E. was funded by a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DE150101206). We would also like to acknowledge and thank Prof Ryan Lister and Dr Peter Gollan for discussions and critical feedback on experiments and interpretations. We would like to recognize the extensive and knowledgeable contributions of both Dr Terry Neeman and Dr Andrew Bowerman on experimental design and analyses. We would like to acknowledge the Biomolecular Resource Facility and The Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (supported under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy of the Australian Government) at the ANU for performing Illumina sequencing and providing plant phenotyping and growth facilities, respectively.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • NPQ
  • epigenetics
  • stress memory


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