, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 817-827,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 31 Oct 2012

Vernalization and photoperiod-related changes in the DNA methylation state in winter and spring rapeseed


Vernalization-induced flowering is an effect of the epigenetic regulation of gene expression through DNA methylation and histone modifications. Vernalization-mediated silencing of a floral repressor through histone modifications was shown in Arabidopsis thaliana. However, for Brassica napus L., the mechanism underlying vernalization is unclear, and the roles of DNA methylation and histone modifications have not been established. This study revealed the profiles of changes in the DNA methylation state during vernalization (after 14, 35, 56 days) and the subsequent growth in long- or short-day photoperiods (after 2, 7, 14 days) in the winter and spring rapeseed using TLC and MSAP techniques. TLC analysis showed a significant decrease in the amount of 5-methylcytosine (m5C) in genomic DNA in both cultivars at the beginning of vernalization, but upon its termination, the winter rape showed a reduced level of m5C contrary to a significantly increased level in the spring rape. MSAP analysis revealed that winter and spring rapeseed differed in the MSAP loci which were demethylated/methylated in the course of the experiment and presented diverse profiles of changes in the methylation state. The winter rape showed permanent demethylations at 69.2 % of MSAP loci in the course of vernalization that were mostly preserved upon its termination. The spring rape showed similar numbers of demethylations and methylations that were mainly transient. The study provides evidence of the role of DNA methylation in vernalization for rapeseed and for the significant prevalence of demethylations at the beginning of vernalization, which is necessary for the transition to reproductive growth.