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Frontiers in Plant Science

Evolutionary and Population Genetics

Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01851

Transient stability of epigenetic population differentiation in a clonal invader

 Wen Shi1, Xiaojie Chen1,  Lexuan Gao2, Cheng-Yuan Xu3, Xiaokun Qu1,  Oliver Bossdorf4,  Ji Yang2 and  Yupeng Geng1*
  • 1Yunnan University, China
  • 2Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Fudan University, China
  • 3School of Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Australia
  • 4Plant Evolutionary Ecology group, University of Tubingen, Germany

Epigenetic variation may play an important role in plants coping with new and heterogeneous environments. Although significant epigenetic differentiation among contrasting habitats has been frequently observed in field, its stability remains largely unknown. Here, we used field monitoring, multi-generation cultivation in common garden, and growth chamber to investigate the dynamics of epigenetic variation in Alternanthera philoxeroides, a clonal invasive weed in China. Using AFLP and MS-AFLP markers, we found little genetic variation, but considerable epigenetic variation, in natural populations along a broad climatic gradient. Repeated measurements indicated that the epigenetic diversity and differentiation was largely stable in field, but showed transient stability and progressive erosion under common environments. It seemed that the epigenetic variations observed in field origin from repeated induction and were reinforced by environments, rather than from spontaneous epimutations selected by environments. Given its limited genetic variation in DNA sequences, this clonal invader may benefit much from epigenetic variations in acclimation to heterogeneous environments across broad climatic gradient.

Keywords: Clonal invasive species, population differentiation, Alternanthera philoxeroides, epigenetic variation, plasticity

Received: 31 Aug 2018; Accepted: 29 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Bi-Cheng Dong, Beijing Forestry University, China

Reviewed by:

Vit Latzel, Institute of Botany (ASCR), Czechia
Xinmin Lu, Huazhong Agricultural University, China  

Copyright: © 2018 Shi, Chen, Gao, Xu, Qu, Bossdorf, Yang and Geng. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Yupeng Geng, Yunnan University, Kunming, China, yupenggeng@qq.com