The role of environmental exposures and the epigenome in health and disease

Bambarendage P.U. Perera, Christopher Faulk, Laurie K. Svoboda, Jaclyn M. Goodrich, Dana C. Dolinoy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The genetic material of every organism exists within the context of regulatory networks that govern gene expression, collectively called the epigenome. Epigenetics has taken center stage in the study of diseases such as cancer and diabetes, but its integration into the field of environmental health is still emerging. As the Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society (EMGS) celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, we have come together to review and summarize the seminal advances in the field of environmental epigenomics. Specifically, we focus on the role epigenetics may play in multigenerational and transgenerational transmission of environmentally induced health effects. We also summarize state of the art techniques for evaluating the epigenome, environmental epigenetic analysis, and the emerging field of epigenome editing. Finally, we evaluate transposon epigenetics as they relate to environmental exposures and explore the role of noncoding RNA as biomarkers of environmental exposures. Although the field has advanced over the past several decades, including being recognized by EMGS with its own Special Interest Group, recently renamed Epigenomics, we are excited about the opportunities for environmental epigenetic science in the next 50 years. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 61:176–192, 2020.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-192
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • environmental epigenetics
  • piRNA
  • transposons, DNA methylation
  • Neoplasms/etiology
  • Environmental Health
  • Epigenomics/methods
  • Humans
  • Epigenome/drug effects
  • RNA, Untranslated/genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic/drug effects
  • Animals
  • DNA Methylation/drug effects
  • Environmental Exposure/adverse effects

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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