Cold acclimation induces distinctive changes in the chromatin state and transcript levels of COR genes in Cannabis sativa varieties with contrasting cold acclimation capacities.

Mayer, B.F., Ali-Benali, M.A., Demone, J., Bertrand, A., and Charron, J.-B. (2015). "Cold acclimation induces distinctive changes in the chromatin state and transcript levels of COR genes in Cannabis sativa varieties with contrasting cold acclimation capacities.", Physiologia Plantarum, 155(3), pp. 281-295. doi : 10.1111/ppl.12318  Access to full text

Abstract

Little is known about the capacity of Cannabis sativa to cold-acclimate and develop freezing tolerance. This study investigates the cold acclimation (CA) capacity of nine C. sativa varieties and the underlying genetic and epigenetic responses. The varieties were divided into three groups based on their contrasting CA capacities by comparing the survival of non-acclimated and cold-acclimated plants in whole-plant freeze tests. In response to the CA treatment, all varieties accumulated soluble sugars but only the varieties with superior capacity for CA could maintain higher levels throughout the treatment. In addition, the varieties that acclimated most efficiently accumulated higher transcript levels of cold-regulated (COR) genes and genes involved in de novo DNA methylation while displaying locus- and variety-specific changes in the levels of H3K9ac, H3K27me3 and methylcytosine (MeC) during CA. Furthermore, these hardy C. sativa varieties displayed significant increases in MeC levels at COR gene loci when deacclimated, suggesting a role for locus-specific DNA methylation in deacclimation. This study uncovers the molecular mechanisms underlying CA in C. sativa and reveals higher levels of complexity regarding how genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors intertwine.

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