RP11: Heritable stress-induced genetic and epigenetic changes in Strawberry

  • Supervisor(s): Etienne Bucher, Béatrice Denoyes
  • Host Institution: Institut National de Recherche en Agriculture (INRA), Angers, France
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Fixed start date: 1 April 2018
  • Planned secondment(s): Leipzig University (GE), Charles University Prague (CZ), Udine University (IT), Institut de recherche pour le développement (FR)

Transposable elements (TEs) have long been known to contribute to genetic diversity in plants that undergo severe stresses. However, it is currently unknown how and to which level the activity of TEs can contribute to stable epigenetic changes in plants. In this project, we will use several innovative approaches to study heritable genetic and epigenetic changes resulting from the mobilization of transposable elements in strawberry (Fragaria vesca). These approaches will include: (i) identification of ecologically relevant stresses and combinations thereof that lead to the mobilisation of TEs (ii) create strawberry lines carrying novel TE insertions (iii) study the phenotypic diversity and modified stress response of the resulting plants (iv) study how the mobilisation and insertion of novel TEs affect the strawberry epigenome (via whole genome DNA methylation analysis), (v) analyse the stability of stress-induced DNA methylation changes during sexual and asexual reproduction.

To allow detailed molecular and genome-wide characterization of these experiments a simplified genetic strawberry material (near recombinant inbred lines) will be used.

The research groups of E. Bucher and B. Denoyes have strong track record in the study of epigenetics and strawberries (e.g. Daccord et al (2017), Nature Genetics and Tenreira et al (2017), The Plant Cell).

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