Genetic and Methylome Variation in Turkish Brachypodium Distachyon Accessions Differentiate Two Geographically Distinct Subpopulations

Aleksandra Skalska, Christoph Stritt, Michele Wyler, Hefin W Williams, Martin Vickers, Jiwan Han, Metin Tuna, Gulsemin Savas Tuna, Karolina Susek, Martin Swain, Rafał K Wóycicki, Saurabh Chaudhary, Fiona Corke, John H Doonan, Anne C Roulin, Robert Hasterok, Luis A J Mur

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Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium) is a non-domesticated model grass species that can be used to test if variation in genetic sequence or methylation are linked to environmental differences. To assess this, we collected seeds from 12 sites within five climatically distinct regions of Turkey. Seeds from each region were grown under standardized growth conditions in the UK to preserve methylated sequence variation. At six weeks following germination, leaves were sampled and assessed for genomic and DNA methylation variation. In a follow-up experiment, phenomic approaches were used to describe plant growth and drought responses. Genome sequencing and population structure analysis suggested three ancestral clusters across the Mediterranean, two of which were geographically separated in Turkey into coastal and central subpopulations. Phenotypic analyses showed that the coastal subpopulation tended to exhibit relatively delayed flowering and the central, increased drought tolerance as indicated by reduced yellowing. Genome-wide methylation analyses in GpC, CHG and CHH contexts also showed variation which aligned with the separation into coastal and central subpopulations. The climate niche modelling of both subpopulations showed a significant influence from the "Precipitation in the Driest Quarter" on the central subpopulation and "Temperature of the Coldest Month" on the coastal subpopulation. Our work demonstrates genetic diversity and variation in DNA methylation in Turkish accessions of Brachypodium that may be associated with climate variables and the molecular basis of which will feature in ongoing analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6700
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2020


  • Brachypodium
  • DNA methylation
  • Drought
  • Flowering
  • Genome
  • Phenomics
  • Climate
  • DNA Methylation/genetics
  • Brachypodium/genetics
  • Genetic Variation/genetics
  • Genome, Plant/genetics
  • Turkey
  • Stress, Physiological/genetics
  • Droughts
  • Seeds/genetics
  • Plant Leaves/genetics


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