, Volume 43, Issue 2-3, pp 147-161

Genomic imprinting in plants: observations and evolutionary implications

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The epigenetic phenomenon of genomic imprinting occurs among both plants and animals. In species where imprinting is observed, there are parent-of-origin effects on the expression of imprinted genes in offspring. This review focuses on imprinting in plants with examples from maize, where gene imprinting was first described, and Arabidopsis. Our current understanding of imprinting in plants is presented in the context of cytosine methylation and imprinting in mammals, where developmentally essential genes are imprinted. Important considerations include the structure and organization of imprinted genes and the role of regional, differential methylation. Imprinting in plants may be related to other epigenetic phenomena including paramutation and transgene silencing. Finally, we discuss the role of gene structure and evolutionary implications of imprinting in plants.