Minimal evidence for consistent changes in maize DNA methylation patterns following environmental stress

Steven R. Eichten, Nathan M. Springer

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70 Scopus citations


DNA methylation is a chromatin modification that is sometimes associated with epigenetic regulation of gene expression. As DNA methylation can be reversible at some loci, it is possible that methylation patterns may change within an organism that is subjected to environmental stress. In order to assess the effects of abiotic stress on DNA methylation patterns in maize (Zea mays), seeding plants were subjected to heat, cold, and UV stress treatments. Tissue was later collected from individual adult plants that had been subjected to stress or control treatments and used to perform DNA methylation profiling to determine whether there were consistent changes in DNA methylation triggered by specific stress treatments. DNA methylation profiling was performed by immunoprecipitation of methylated DNA followed by microarray hybridization to allow for quantitative estimates of DNA methylation abundance throughout the low-copy portion of the maize genome. By comparing the DNA methylation profiles of each individual plant to the average of the control plants it was possible to identify regions of the genome with variable DNA methylation. However, we did not find evidence of consistent DNA methylation changes resulting from the stress treatments used in this study. Instead, the data suggest that there is a low-rate of stochastic variation that is present in both control and stressed plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number308
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - May 30 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Eichten and Springer.


  • Abiotic stress
  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • Maize
  • Tissue culture


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