CNRS / ENS ,Paris, France
Chromatin dynamics and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance
Our group studies chromatin-based epigenetic processes and chromatin dynamics in the flowering plant Arabidopsis using genomic and genetic approaches. Our approaches are based in part on the use of epigenomic techniques to obtain detailed maps of specific chromatin modifications and chromatin-associated proteins along the genome. These epigenomic maps are being established in different genetic or developmental contexts in order to characterize the factors involved in chromatin organization as well as the extent of chromatin changes that occur across the genome during cell differentiation and plant organogenesis.
Our other main interest is to determine the contribution of heritable variations in chromatin states, so-called epigenetic variants, to heritable phenotypic variation, especially in the context of complex traits. To this end, we have created a large population of "epigenetic" recombinant inbred lines (epiRILs), starting from two parents with virtually identical genomes but contrasted profiles of DNA methylation, a classic epigenetic mark. Analysis of the epiRILs revealed a remarkably high degree of heritability for several complex traits, as well as stable segregation of multiple parental DNA methylation variants for at least eight generations. These findings highlight the potential relevance of epigenetic variation to population and evolutionary genetics.