About the Project
Plant vigour has been associated to epigenetic modifications (Groszmann et al., 2013), and differentially methylated genes (epialelles) can affect phenotypes in plants with identical DNA genomic sequence (Dapp et al., 2015). In addition, experiments performed on model plants demonstrated that small RNA molecules (sRNAs) can move systemically from rootstock through the plant vascular tissue, and direct DNA methylation modification in scions (Melnyk et al., 2011; Wang et al., 2017).
In the proposed project, we aim to investigate the epigenetic contribution to grafting-induced vigour in tomato and eggplants, which are the most important herbaceous species commercially grafted in the Solanaceous family. Taking advantage of a collection of characterized commercial rootstocks developed by ENZA ZADEN, we aim to correlate the induced vigour with differences in the scion DNA methylation. This project will:
- Obtain the DNA methylation profile of tomato and eggplant scions grafted on different rootstocks, and investigate the differences in genome methylation associated to plant vigour.
- By using hetero-grafted plant combinations, screen and characterize rootstock-specific small RNA molecules travelling from the rootstock to the scion, potentially able to direct epigenetic changes.
Groszmann, M., Greaves, I.K., Fujimoto, R., James Peacock, W., and Dennis, E.S. (2013). The role of epigenetics in hybrid vigour. Trends Genet. 29, 684–690.
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