Polyploidy is a prominent feature for genome evolution in many animals and all flowering plants. Plant polyploids often show enhanced fitness in diverse and extreme environments, but the molecular basis for this remains elusive. Soil salinity presents challenges for many plants including agricultural crops. Here we report that salt tolerance is enhanced in tetraploid rice through lower sodium uptake and correlates with epigenetic regulation of jasmonic acid (JA)-related genes. Polyploidy induces DNA hypomethylation and potentiates genomic loci coexistent with many stress-responsive genes, which are generally associated with proximal transposable elements (TEs). Under salt stress, the stress-responsive genes including those in the JA pathway are more rapidly induced and expressed at higher levels in tetraploid than in diploid rice, which is concurrent with increased jasmonoyl isoleucine (JA-Ile) content and JA signaling to confer stress tolerance. After stress, elevated expression of stress-responsive genes in tetraploid rice can induce hypermethylation and suppression of the TEs adjacent to stress-responsive genes. These induced responses are reproducible in a recurring round of salt stress and shared between two japonica tetraploid rice lines. The data collectively suggest a feedback relationship between polyploidy-induced hypomethylation in rapid and strong stress response and stress-induced hypermethylation to repress proximal TEs and/or TE-associated stress-responsive genes. This feedback regulation may provide a molecular basis for selection to enhance adaptation of polyploid plants and crops during evolution and domestication.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 30 2021|
- DNA methylation
- Gene expression
- Salt tolerance
ASJC Scopus subject areas