Structure and extent of DNA methylation-based epigenetic variation in wild emmer wheat (T. turgidum ssp. dicoccoides) populations

Anna Venetsky, Adva Levy-Zamir, Vadim Khasdan, Katherine Domb, Khalil Kashkush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: The genetic structure and differentiation of wild emmer wheat suggests that genetic diversity is eco-geographically structured. However, very little is known about the structure and extent of the heritable epigenetic variation and its influence on local adaptation in natural populations. Results: The structure and extent of the heritable methylation-based epigenetic variation were assessed within and among natural populations of Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides. We used methylation sensitive amplified polymorphism (MSAP) and transposon methylation display (TMD) techniques, to assess the methylation status of random genomic CCGG sites and CCGG sites flanking transposable elements (TEs), respectively. Both techniques were applied to the DNA of 50 emmer accessions which were collected from five different geographically isolated regions. In order to ensure the assessment of heritable epigenetic variation, all accessions were grown under common garden conditions for two generations. In all accessions, the difference in methylation levels of CCGG sites, including CCGG sites that flanked TEs, were not statistically significant and relatively high, ranging between 46 and 76 %. The pattern of methylation was significantly different among accessions, such that clear and statistically significant population-specific methylation patterns were observed. Conclusion: In this study, we have observed population-unique heritable methylation patterns in emmer wheat accessions originating from five geographically isolated regions. Our data indicate that methylation-based epigenetic diversity might be eco-geographically structured and might be partly determined by climatic and edaphic factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number200
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 14 Aug 2015


  • Biodiversity
  • DNA methylation
  • Emmer wheat
  • Transposable elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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