Epigenetic responses of hare barley (Hordeum murinum subsp. leporinum) to climate change: an experimental, trait-based approach

2021 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Epigenetic responses of hare barley (Hordeum murinum subsp. leporinum) to climate change: an experimental, trait-based approach​
Chano, V.; Domínguez-Flores, T.; Hidalgo-Galvez, M. D.; Rodríguez-Calcerrada, J. & Pérez-Ramos, I. M.​ (2021) 
Heredity126(5) pp. 748​-762​.​ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41437-021-00415-y 

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Chano, Víctor; Domínguez-Flores, Tania; Hidalgo-Galvez, Maria Dolores; Rodríguez-Calcerrada, Jesús; Pérez-Ramos, Ignacio Manuel
Abstract The impact of reduced rainfall and increased temperatures forecasted by climate change models on plant communities will depend on the capacity of plant species to acclimate and adapt to new environmental conditions. The acclimation process is mainly driven by epigenetic regulation, including structural and chemical modifications on the genome that do not affect the nucleotide sequence. In plants, one of the best-known epigenetic mechanisms is cytosine-methylation. We evaluated the impact of 30% reduced rainfall (hereafter “drought” treatment; D), 3 °C increased air temperature (“warming”; W), and the combination of D and W (WD) on the phenotypic and epigenetic variability of Hordeum murinum subsp. leporinum L., a grass species of high relevance in Mediterranean agroforestry systems. A full factorial experiment was set up in a savannah-like ecosystem located in southwestern Spain. H. murinum exhibited a large phenotypic plasticity in response to climatic conditions. Plants subjected to warmer conditions (i.e., W and WD treatments) flowered earlier, and those subjected to combined stress (WD) showed a higher investment in leaf area per unit of leaf mass (i.e., higher SLA) and produced heavier seeds. Our results also indicated that both the level and patterns of methylation varied substantially with the climatic treatments, with the combination of D and W inducing a clearly different epigenetic response compared to that promoted by D and W separately. The main conclusion achieved in this work suggests a potential role of epigenetic regulation of gene expression for the maintenance of homoeostasis and functional stability under future climate change scenarios.
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Springer Science and Business Media {LLC}
Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Büsgen-Institut ; Abteilung Forstgenetik und Forstpflanzenzüchtung 
Biodiversity Foundation, Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition (grant number PRCV00434). Spanish Ministry of Science and Universities (grant number CGL2015-70123-R).



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