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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2012, 13(8), 9900-9922; doi:10.3390/ijms13089900

Molecular Mechanisms of Epigenetic Variation in Plants

1,†,* , 2,†
1 Graduate School of Science and Technology, Niigata University, Nishi-ku, Niigata 950-2181, Japan 2 Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Dr. Bohrgasse 3, Vienna 1030, Austria 3 Laboratory of Plant Breeding, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kobe University, Nada, Kobe 657-8510, Japan 4 Cell and Developmental Biology, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK 5 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Plant Industry, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia 6 Watanabe Seed Co., Ltd, Machiyashiki, Misato-cho, Miyagi 987-8607, Japan These authors contributed equally to this work.
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 May 2012 / Revised: 27 July 2012 / Accepted: 30 July 2012 / Published: 8 August 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Molecular Plant Biology)
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Natural variation is defined as the phenotypic variation caused by spontaneous mutations. In general, mutations are associated with changes of nucleotide sequence, and many mutations in genes that can cause changes in plant development have been identified. Epigenetic change, which does not involve alteration to the nucleotide sequence, can also cause changes in gene activity by changing the structure of chromatin through DNA methylation or histone modifications. Now there is evidence based on induced or spontaneous mutants that epigenetic changes can cause altering plant phenotypes. Epigenetic changes have occurred frequently in plants, and some are heritable or metastable causing variation in epigenetic status within or between species. Therefore, heritable epigenetic variation as well as genetic variation has the potential to drive natural variation.
Keywords: epigenetic; DNA methylation; metastable; natural variation epigenetic; DNA methylation; metastable; natural variation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Fujimoto, R.; Sasaki, T.; Ishikawa, R.; Osabe, K.; Kawanabe, T.; Dennis, E.S. Molecular Mechanisms of Epigenetic Variation in Plants. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2012, 13, 9900-9922.

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