RP14: Transgenerational epigenetic effects: role of small RNAs

  • PhD Supervisor(s): Detlef Weigel & Anjar Wibowo
  • Host Institution: Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Fixed start date: 1 April 2018
  • Planned secondment(s): Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (FRA), IGA Technology Services (ITA)

Epigenetic mechanisms can establish a memory of previous stress exposure, allowing a plant to react more effectively upon repeated exposure to the same stress. In some cases, such memory may extend to the following generation.

Prominent targets of stress-induced epigenetic changes are transposable elements. Their induced methylation can repress neighboring genes, and thus modify cellular output and stress response. Such changes may involve stress-induced small RNAs generated from and/or recognizing sequences found in transposable elements. 

Objective is to study the transgenerational aspect of epigenetic memory by integrating information on small RNA abundance and DNA methylation both within and between plant generations. Of particular interest will also be DNA sequence variation among related genotypes of the same species and its effects on stress memory. This may be caused by the absence of transposable elements, the absence of transposon repression through altered small RNA sequences, misregulation of small RNA abundances, or additional components of epigenetic control. Next generation sequencing, including data analysis, will be an integral part of the project. 

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