Recurrent Water Deficit and Epigenetic Memory in Medicago Sativa L. Varieties
Global DNA methylation changes in response to recurrent drought stress were investigated in two common Greek Medicago sativa L. varieties (Lamia and Chaironia-Institute of Ιndustrial and Forage Crops). The water deficit was implemented in two phases. At the end of the first phase, which lasted for 60 days, the plants were cut at the height of 5 cm and were watered regularly for two months before being subjected to the second drought stress, which lasted for two weeks. Finally, the following
... , the following groups of plants were formed: CC (controls both in phase I and phase II), CD2 (Controls in phase I, experiencing drought in phase II), and D1D2 (were subjected to drought in both phase I and phase II). At the end of phase II, samples were taken for global DNA methylation analysis with the Methylation Sensitive Amplification Polymorphism (MSAP) method, and all plants were harvested in order to measure the fresh and dry weight of roots and shoots. The variety Lamia responded better, especially the D1D2 group, compared to Chaironia in terms of root and shoot dry weight. Additionally, the shoots of Lamia had a constant water status for CD2 and D1D2 group of plants. According to DNA methylation analysis by the MSAP method, Lamia had lower total DNA methylation percentage after the second drought episode (D1D2) as compared to the plants CD2 that had experienced only one drought episode. On the other hand, the total DNA methylation percentage of Chaironia was almost the same in plants grown under recurrent drought stress conditions compared to control plants. In conclusion, the decrease of DNA methylation of Lamia stressed plants probably indicates the existence of an epigenetic mechanism that may render drought tolerance.