Original Paper

Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 359-368

First online:

Variations in genomic DNA methylation during the long-term in vitro proliferation of oil palm embryogenic suspension cultures

  • Alain RivalAffiliated withCIRAD, UMR DIADE (IRD, UMSF)
  • , Pascal IlbertAffiliated withCIRAD, UMR DIADE (IRD, UMSF)
  • , Axel LabeyrieAffiliated withPalmElit SASCIRAD, UMR AGAP
  • , Esperanza TorresAffiliated withUniversidad Nacional de Colombia
  • , Sylvie DoulbeauAffiliated withIRD, UMR DIADE (IRD, UMSF)
  • , Aline PersonneAffiliated withCIRAD, UMR DIADE (IRD, UMSF)
  • , Stéphane DussertAffiliated withIRD, UMR DIADE (IRD, UMSF)
  • , Thierry BeuléAffiliated withCIRAD, UMR DIADE (IRD, UMSF)
  • , Tristan Durand-GasselinAffiliated withPalmElit SAS
    • , James W. TregearAffiliated withIRD, UMR DIADE (IRD, UMSF)
    • , Estelle JaligotAffiliated withCIRAD, UMR DIADE (IRD, UMSF) Email author 

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Key message

The long-term proliferation of embryogenic cell suspensions of oil palm is associated with changes in both genomic methylation rates and embryogenic capacities.


In the aim of exploring the relationship between epigenetic stability and the long-term in vitro proliferation of plant tissues, we have studied changes in genomic DNA methylation levels in embryogenic suspensions of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.). Five embryogenic callus lines were obtained from selected hybrid seeds and then proliferated as suspension cultures. Each clonal line obtained from a single genotype was subdivided into three independent subclonal lines. Once established, cultures proliferated for 12 months and genomic DNA was sampled at 4 months intervals for the estimation of global DNA methylation rates through high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) quantitation of deoxynucleosides. Our results show that in vitro proliferation induces DNA hypermethylation in a time-dependent fashion. Moreover, this trend is statistically significant in several clonal lines and shared between subclonal lines originating from the same genotype. Interestingly, the only clonal line undergoing loss of genomic methylation in the course of proliferation has been found unable to generate somatic embryos. We discuss the possible implications of genome-wide DNA methylation changes in proliferating cells with a view to the maintenance of genomic and epigenomic stability.


Arecaceae DNA methylation Elaeis guineensis Epigenetic stability Somaclonal variation Somatic embryogenesis