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Tissue and/or developmental stage specific methylation of nrDNA in Capsicum annuum


The nuclear ribosomal DNA (nrDNA) sequences are often used for phylogenetic analysis among organisms. Because DNA cytosine methylation and nucleolar dominancy are two common epigenetic mechanisms of nrDNA, we hypothesized that internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1), 5.8S rRNA and ITS2 of nrDNA sequences could be used as epigenetic biomarkers. Thus, this research was undertaken to study level and pattern of site-specific cytosine methylation of ITS1, 5.8S and ITS2 in nine tissues and/or developmental stage of pepper Capsicum annuum L. cultivar Demre Sivrisi. Tissues studied consisted of young and old roots at 30 and 90 days after sowing (das), mature dry seeds and seeds at 26 days of post anthesis (dpa), flowering buds at 1 day before flowering, pericarps at 3, 15 and 65 dpa. Levels and patterns of DNA cytosine methylation were identified at single base resolution using bisulfite conversion sequencing. Results of this study revealed that DNA cytosine level and pattern of ITS1, 5.8S and ITS2 were different in most tissues and/or developmental stages studied. In addition, methylation levels of CG, CHG and CHH contexts were also significantly different among the regions. Based on the findings of this study, it was concluded that high level of methylation of nrDNA sequences was relatively higher as observed in transposable element and promoter. On the other hand, its tissue-specific gene expression was effective as that of gene body and promoter methylation. Overall findings revealed that methylation levels of nrDNA could be used as biomarkers for tissue identification or age estimation in plants.

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This study was financially supported in part by a grant from Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (Project No: 113O935) and the Scientific Research Projects Coordination Unit of Akdeniz University.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by AGI and MK. Two authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ayse Gul Ince.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare that are relevant to the content of this article.

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Ince, A.G., Karaca, M. Tissue and/or developmental stage specific methylation of nrDNA in Capsicum annuum. J Plant Res 134, 841–855 (2021).

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  • Biomarker
  • CG methylation
  • Epigenetic
  • ITS
  • Ribosomal DNA