Plant Epigenetics: A Comparative Approach
from: Epigenetics (Edited by: Jörg Tost). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2008)
In this chapter, current knowledge of the epigenetic systems of plants is compared to those discovered in other eukaryotes. A broad overview of the components of epigenetic systems in plants will be made - covering small RNA pathways, DNA methylation and chromatin - and comparisons made to other organisms in respect to their regulation, organisation and function. In this way, both conserved elements and novel plant-specific innovations will be discussed. A particular theme is the comparative richness of the plant epigenetic machinery in small gene families, such as diversity in Argonaute and Polycomb-group proteins. The reason for the greater epigenetic complexity in plants is not simply their multicellular development but also their need to cope with an ever-changing environment due to their sessile lifestyle. Not only does this necessitate exceptional flexibility in gene expression and developmental programmes but also defence against invasive genomes such as viruses. All of these challenges are met by the various parts of their epigenetic systems read more ...