Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 30608232
Link to DOI – 10.7554/eLife.40655e40655
Elife 2019 01; 8():
Variation in DNA methylation enables plants to inherit traits independently of changes to DNA sequence. Here, we have screened an Arabidopsis population of epigenetic recombinant inbred lines (epiRILs) for resistance against Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (Hpa). These lines share the same genetic background, but show variation in heritable patterns of DNA methylation. We identified four epigenetic quantitative trait loci (epiQTLs) that provide quantitative resistance without reducing plant growth or resistance to other (a)biotic stresses. Phenotypic characterisation and RNA-sequencing analysis revealed that Hpa-resistant epiRILs are primed to activate defence responses at the relatively early stages of infection. Collectively, our results show that hypomethylation at selected pericentromeric regions is sufficient to provide quantitative disease resistance, which is associated with genome-wide priming of defence-related genes. Based on comparisons of global gene expression and DNA methylation between the wild-type and resistant epiRILs, we discuss mechanisms by which the pericentromeric epiQTLs could regulate the defence-related transcriptome.