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    DNA methylation plays essential roles in gene regulation, chromatin structure stability, gene imprinting, X chromosome inactivation and embryonic development. However, the dynamics and functions of DNA methylation during the early stage of longan (Dimocarpus longan) somatic embryogenesis (SE) are still unclear. In this study, we carried out whole genome bisulphite sequencing and transcriptome sequencing analyses for embryogenic callus (EC), incomplete compact pro-embryogenic cultures (ICpEC) and globular embryos (GE) in an early SE system. At a global level, the DNA 5-methylcytosine content in EC, ICpEC and GE was 24.59, 19.65 and 19.74%, respectively, suggesting a global decrease in DNA methylation from EC to ICpEC and then a slight increase from ICpEC to GE. Differentially methylated region (DMR) analysis showed that hypomethylation mainly occurred in CHH contexts. Gene ontology and Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes analysis of hypomethylated-CHH-DMR-associated genes revealed that zein biosynthesis, fatty acid biosynthesis, circadian rhythm and mitophagy pathways were involved in longan early SE. Expression patterns of DNA methyltransferase and demethylase genes during longan early SE suggested that the decrease in DNA methylation was probably regulated by DNA methyltransferase genes and the DNA demethylase gene REPRESSOR OF SILENCING 1 (ROS1). The correlation between DNA hypomethylation and gene expression revealed that decreased DNA methylation did not cause extensive changes in gene expression during early longan SE and that gene expression may be affected by methylation changes in gene and downstream regions. Inhibiting DNA methylation with 5-azacytidine treatment in EC promoted the formation of GE and enhanced the capability of longan SE. Our results suggest that DNA demethylation has important roles in longan SE development. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


    Xiaohui Chen, Xiaoping Xu, Xu Shen, Hansheng Li, Chen Zhu, Rongzhu Chen, Nigarish Munir, Zihao Zhang, Yukun Chen, Xu Xuhan, Yuling Lin, Zhongxiong Lai. Genome-wide investigation of DNA methylation dynamics reveals a critical role of DNA demethylation during the early somatic embryogenesis of Dimocarpus longan Lour. Tree physiology. 2020 Dec 05;40(12):1807-1826

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    PMID: 32722792

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