Publications des agents du Cirad


Epigenetics and plant breeding

Rival A., Jaligot E.. 2011. Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources, 6 (48) : p. 1-4.

DOI: 10.1079/PAVSNNR20116048

The amazing ability of epigenetic mechanisms to respond to a wide range of developmental and environmental signals in eukaryotes has earned them a lot of attention. Indeed, epigenetically regulated gene expression (variations in gene expression obtained without permanent alteration of the DNA sequence) is involved in differentiation, organogenesis and acclimation, and, as such, is hypothesized to participate in both phenotypic diversity and the plasticity of living organisms. While the importance of epigenetic mechanisms in the understanding of such vital processes is now widely recognized, many questions remain to be elucidated. Foremost is the point of transmission of epigenetic marks on (methylated cytosines) and around (modified histone tails) DNA, since research is still needed to explain the inheritance of an epigenetic character and which mechanisms are involved. The present review is aimed at illustrating key concepts when considering the exploitation of epigenetic changes for plant breeding, through both its environmentally responsive character and its potential heritability. In doing so, we have avoided developments relating to complex molecular pathways so as to give a glimpse to the interested but non-expert reader on the current debates and on the experimental challenges still ahead.

Mots-clés : amélioration des plantes; Épigénétique

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