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    DNA methylation, morphogenesis and gene expression during the somatic embryogenesis of Coconut are affected by 5-Azacytidine pretreatments, indicating that DNA methylation is an important factor throughout this process. Somatic embryogenesis (SE) is a process that can aid in the production of elite Cocos nucifera palms. It has been well established that epigenetic mechanisms are regulators of cell differentiation programs; however, their role in the coconut somatic embryogenesis has not yet been addressed. To this end, the morphogenetic changes, the global DNA methylation and the expression profiles of the SE-related genes and DNA methyltransferases genes were evaluated during the SE process, with and without the presence of 5-Azacytidine (AzaC). The results show that three days of pretreatments with 15 µM and 20 µM of AzaC significantly increased early somatic embryo formation (four- and tenfold, respectively). A clear peak of the global percentage of DNA methylation (approximately 13%) was determined at the beginning of the culture, followed by a re-establishing stage and a steady increase thereafter; in all cases, the levels of DNA methylation were lower after the pretreatments with AzaC. Additionally, the expression profiles of the SERK, WUS, BBM and LEC genes are modulated during the SE process and the pretreatments with AzaC affect the expression profiles of these genes, even at early stages. Furthermore, increased levels of expression were observed for the genes encoding for DNA methyltransferases (MET, CMT and DRM) at early and late stages of SE, indicating that DNA methylation is an important factor throughout the SE.


    Pedro Osorio-Montalvo, Clelia De-la-Peña, Carlos Oropeza, Geovanny Nic-Can, Iván Córdova-Lara, Eduardo Castillo-Castro, Luis Sáenz-Carbonell. A peak in global DNA methylation is a key step to initiate the somatic embryogenesis of coconut palm (Cocos nucifera L). Plant cell reports. 2020 Oct;39(10):1345-1357

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    PMID: 32789543

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