Changes in micro RNA expression in a wild tuber-bearing Solanum species induced by 5-Azacytidine treatment

Abstract

Phenotypic plasticity is often postulated as a principal characteristic of tuber-bearing wild Solanum species. The hypotheses to explore this observation have been developed based on the presence of genetic variation. In this context, evolutionary changes and adaptation are impossible without genetic variation. However, epigenetic effects, which include DNA methylation and microRNAs expression control, could be another source of phenotypic variation in ecologically relevant traits. To achieve a detailed mechanistic understanding of these processes, it is necessary to separate epigenetic from DNA sequence-based effects and to evaluate their relative importance on phenotypic variability. We explored the potential relevance of epigenetic effects in individuals with the same genotype. For this purpose, a clone of the wild potato Solanum ruiz-lealii, a non-model species in which natural methylation variability has been demonstrated, was selected and its DNA methylation was manipulated applying 5-Azacytidine (AzaC), a demethylating agent. The AzaC treatment induced early flowering and changes in leaf morphology. Using quantitative real-time PCR, we identified four miRNAs up-regulated in the AzaC-treated plants. One of them, miRNA172, could play a role on the early flowering phenotype. In this work, we showed that the treatment with AzaC could provide meaningful results allowing to study both the phenotypic plasticity in tuber-bearing Solanum species and the inter-relation between DNA methylation and miRNA accumulations in a wide range of species.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by grants of Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (ANPCyT), Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología de Argentina PICT 2007-1294 and by INTA PE 243532. We are grateful to Ariel Bazzini and Carlos Manacorda (Instituto de Biotecnología, Centro de Investigación en Ciencias Veterinarias y Agronómicas, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria Castelar) for valuable technical assistance with qPCR analysis, and Julia V. Sabio y García (Instituto de Biotecnología, Centro de Investigación en Ciencias Veterinarias y Agronómicas, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria Castelar) for critical reading of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Carlos F. Marfil.

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Communicated by P. Kumar.

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Marfil, C.F., Asurmendi, S. & Masuelli, R.W. Changes in micro RNA expression in a wild tuber-bearing Solanum species induced by 5-Azacytidine treatment. Plant Cell Rep 31, 1449–1461 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00299-012-1260-x

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Keywords

  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • Micro RNAs
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Wild potato species