Analyses of transcriptomes and global histone modification patterns in Arabidopsis hybrids at early developmental stages

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Heterosis has been used for decades in the crop industry, especially in the production of rice and maize. Hybrids usually exceed their parents in plant biomass, seed number and seed weight. Previous findings suggested that heterosis could be associated with altered gene expression in hybrids. In some cases, alterations in gene expression are associated with the alterations in epigenetic factors, such as DNA methylation and histone modifications. Although biomass heterosis has been shown in hybrids at relatively late developmental stages, the timing of heterosis establishment is not clear. In this project, the transcriptomes and global histone modification patterns were analysed in Arabidopsis hybrids at early stages of seedling development. The results suggested that biomass heterosis was present in young seedlings of Ler/C24 hybrids. This early heterosis was associated with transient changes in the hybrids relative to the parents in the activities of genes involved in critical pathways, including photosynthesis pathways, responsible for plant growth. A limited role for histone modifications in regulating the differentially expressed genes in hybrid seeds was shown. Finally, our results demonstrated that allelic expression patterns in hybrid seeds anticipate those in parents at later developmental stages.
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