African Journal of
Plant Science

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Plant Sci.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0824
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPS
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 718

Review

Understanding epigenetic effects in crop species

Joseph Onwusemu Disi, Dayong Wei, Jiaqin Mei and Wei Qian*        
College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, Southwest University, Chongqing, 40076, People’s Republic of China.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 21 October 2011
  •  Published: 30 November 2012

Abstract

Epigenetics, which generally refers to beyond genetics, began to attract the attention of plant geneticits principally due to many biological phenomena that deviate from basic evolutionary rules and trends. Several studies past and present have attributed gene expression including both qualitative and environmentally influenced morphological changes in plants and crop species to epigenetic related activities such as DNA methylation, histone modifications, non-coding RNA mediated pathways amongst others and show that these epigenetic landmarks can be stably inherited across generations. However, the ‘ghostlike’ nature of these epigenetic activities will otherwise make steady progress in its utilization in agronomy related problems fairly slow. There are still many unknown about the ‘how’ (for example it is well known that the emergence of DNA methylation is mostly affected by growth conditions such as stress but this is not so with random mutational events) before this science can be adequately utilized in the manipulation of quantitatively controlled agronomic traits. Here, we examined the mechanisms as well as showed recent epigenetic inheritance and somaclonal variation related evidences in plant, with emphasis on a number of methylation related fingerprints in crop plants as an epigenetic marker that play key role in phenotypic variations.   

  

Key words: DNA methylation, epigenetic inheritance, gene expression.