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Ukr. Bot. J. 2021, 78(5): 347–359
Vegetation Science, Ecology, Conservation

The role of epigenetic regulation in adaptive phenotypic plasticity of plants

Kordyum E.L., Dubyna D.V.

In recent decades, knowledge about the role of epigenetic regulation of gene expression in plant responses to external stimuli and in adaptation of plants to adverse environmental fluctuations have extended significantly. DNA methylation is considered as the main molecular mechanism that provides genomic information and contributes to the understanding of the molecular basis of phenotypic variations based on epigenetic modifications. Unfortunately, the vast majority of research in this area has been performed on the model species Arabidopsis thaliana. The development of the methylation-sensitive amplified polymorphism (MSAP) method has made it possible to implement the large-scale detection of DNA methylation alterations in wild non-model and agricultural plants with large and highly repetitive genomes in natural and manipulated habitats. The article presents current information on DNA methylation in species of natural communities and crops and its importance in plant development and adaptive phenotypic plasticity, along with brief reviews of current ideas about adaptive phenotypic plasticity and epigenetic regulation of gene expression. The great potential of further studies of the epigenetic role in phenotypic plasticity of a wide range of non-model species in natural populations and agrocenoses for understanding the molecular mechanisms of plant existence in the changing environment in onto- and phylogeny, directly related to the key tasks of forecasting the effects of global warming and crop selection, is emphasized. Specific taxa of the Ukrainian flora, which, in authors’ opinion, are promising and interesting for this type of research, are recommended.

Keywords: adaptation, DNA methylation, epigenetic regulation, phenotypic plasticity

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