Epigenetic adaptation and memory of tree ecosystem

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In addition to nitrogen, phosphate is primarily limiting for the total biomass production in natural (forest) ecosystems. Due to the low mobility of phosphate, higher plants require even on well-fertilized agricultural soils to a greater or lesser extent special adaptations for P acquisition, such as the formation of fine root structures, changes in the rhizosphere for P-mobilization, the expression of high affinity Pi uptake systems, mycorrhiza formation and efficient internal P recycling. The genetic and physiological basis of this adaptation has been studied extensively in recent years. Largely unknown is this context, however, to which extent epigenetic modifications play a role that may allow much more rapid adaptations to environment-related stresses than mutational changes. This proposed research project investigates whether genetically identical starting tree material from different locations shows genome-wide epigenetic differences. The non-indigenous, but fully sequenced poplar (Populus trichocarpa) will be used. Genetically identical starting material (cuttings) from different locations will be first analyzed for its nutrient content. These are then grown in pot experiments with different P levels. Their final P-levels and morphological and physiological adaptations are measured. Genome-wide epigenetic differences are mapped using high-throughput next-generation bisulfite sequencing. In particular, we will analyze whether epigenetic differences occur in P-nutrition-related genes and correlate with P acquisition, transfer and/or metabolism, and may thus be responsible for the site adaptation and growth performance.

For further information, see:

Crop Science - Nutritional Crop Physiology




Principal Investigators: 

Prof. Dr. Uwe Ludewig
Universität Hohenheim
Crop Science - Nutritional Crop Physiology
Fruwirthstr. 20
70599 Stuttgart
Tel.: (+49) 711 459 22344

PhD students:

Brigitte Schönberger
Crop Science - Nutritional Crop Physiology
Fruwirthstr. 20
70599 Stuttgart
Tel.: (+49) 711 459 24251 

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